S&P Global Platts' analysis of key news and pricing issues from across the global shipping, natural gas, power, petrochemicals, agriculture, and coal markets.

The US has the world's largest nuclear generation footprint and has witnessed early retirement of nuclear plants, due in part to low natural gas prices as well as declining costs of wind and solar technologies, as well as policy factors. Today's podcast looks at the major cost concerns of nuclear generation today, how some US states are utilizing Zero Emission Credits, and how these issues are impacting decisions to extend operating licenses.

Petcoke prices out of the US Gulf have doubled since this time last year. Prices continue to rise amid tight supply, and volatile freight markets within the region add fuel to the flames. S&P Global Platts coal and shipping editors discuss the impetus behind this price rally, in what has been one of the most notable commodity bull-runs of 2020/2021.

Are recent shifts in Atlantic Basin products arbitrages an unusual pandemic feature or the new normal for clean tanker trade? And are the 38kt US Gulf Coast-to-Brazil and 37,000 mt UK Continent-West Africa freight runs the new pacesetters of the Americas and European freight markets? S&P Global Platts Americas managing editor Barbara Troner examines the southward shift in Atlantic Basin clean tanker trade flows to Latin America- and West Africa-bound voyages with Platts experts Marieke Alsguth in Houston and Chris To in London. For free access to information on the dynamics and assessment methodology of the MR USGC-Brazil, please click here or send us an email at tankers@spglobal.com.

Is the recent six-day Suez Canal blockage causing a spike in container box freight? And are the canal's misfortunes the only culprit for impending port delays, or the tip of the iceberg? It may be all too easy to blame the Ever Given incident for the latest logistical issues, rate hikes and arbitrage impacts on agricultural, metals and petrochemical commodity markets. S&P Global Platts Americas shipping managing editor Barbara Troner examines the container market with Platts experts Greg Holt in Houston and George Griffiths in London.

S&P Global Platts senior natural gas writer Harry Weber and S&P Global Market Intelligence midstream finance reporter Allison Good preview with senior digital editor Jason Lindquist the upcoming release of first-quarter earnings results by companies in the North American midstream sector. While weather negatively affected operations in the most recent quarter and seasonal maintenance is expected to be a factor heading into the summer, fundamentals are relatively strong. With vaccines rolling out, the economic recovery driving midstream volumes should continue.

The Mexican government has recently issued a spate of regulations in the midstream and power sectors that have had broad implications. We spoke with Diego Campa of Campa and Mendoza Associates, a law firm in Mexico City, about the most relevant moves, how companies are able to use the courts to halt regulations, and how the recent regulations might fare in the legal system.

Container shortages and high freight rates have proven to be a major hurdle for international trade in the last six months. Nowhere has this been more so than for various agricultural products. S&P Global Platts shipping and agricultural editors come together to discuss the fallout from global container freight shortages and how they have affected the rice, sugar and used cooking oil markets.

The oil market is starting to face a new set of questions as it emerges from the pandemic and as energy transition momentum builds. S&P Global Platts Associate Director Paul Hickin spoke with the International Energy Agency’s Head of Oil Markets Division Toril Bosoni about the outlook for oil demand, the role of OPEC+, US shale and China in the new reality and the challenges for energy security.

Canada enters the natural gas injection season with below-average storage levels as demand from resurging activity in the oil sands as well as coal-to-gas switching and higher exports look to boost AECO prices in relation to major market centers in the US Upper Midwest. The NGTL pipeline and storage system also looks to play a role in the market this year. S&P Global Platts natural gas editor Brandon Evans and analyst Richard Frey look at the issues driving the market.

A long-standing regional supply shortage, aggravated by COVID-19 impacts, has prompted steel prices in Mexico to jump to 13-year highs, while local demand is yet to recover. Higher raw materials prices, coupled with a strong US dollar, were also drivers of a trend that is not expected to end in the short term. Adriana Carvalho, S&P Global Platts managing editor for Latin American metals, and Claudia Cardenas, pricing specialist of Mexican metals pricing, examine the trends influencing the markets and present the latest updates on Platts methodology and specifications for Mexican flat steel pricing.

Mexico's Pemex, the state oil company, is facing challenges to increase production, as the government desires, and also internationally to meet its environmental commitments. We spoke with Andrew Rudman, director of the Wilson Center's Mexico Institute, about these challenges and the relationship between Pemex and the United States under the Biden administration. Related coverage PODCAST: Mexico's Pemex announces large oil discovery, but faces challenges in reaching production goals Mexico's Pemex discovers 1.2 billion boe complex in Tabasco region: CEO

The oil futures market has been volatile on news that a large container ship was blocking the Suez Canal, a key artery for petroleum shipments, but do spot markets give a better indication of the impacts on global trade flows? Why are producers remaining so focused on growth in Guyana, considering softer demand growth expectations? Jeff Mower, head of Americas oil news for S&P Global Platts, discusses the issues with Platts editors Starr Spencer and Chris van Moessner.

Recent dynamics driving unseasonably high JKM and TTF pricing, ranging from elevated carbon pricing and LNG outages creating supply disturbance in Asia, have further illustrated the emerging global links driving natural gas pricing. Beyond these current dynamics, European and US storage exit winter at lower levels than recent years, but what does robust US production, low pricing, record US feedgas and elevated TTF levels mean for global gas prices heading into summer? Ira Joseph, S&P Global Platts head of generating fuels and electricity power pricing, and Ryan Ouwerkerk, manager of Americas natural gas pricing, dive into the trends influencing the markets.

The International Maritime Organization has approved amendments to its MARPOL Annex VI regulations, introducing an Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) that is expected to come into force in 2023. S&P Global Platts container editor George Griffiths and tankers editor Charlotte Bucchioni look at what these new amendments entail, and how they might impact the world of shipping at a time when freight rates are already volatile and uncertainty has become the new normal.

The cost to ship goods on containers are climbing as additional premiums, such as the priority-loading premium, take hold in the market. The premium, which can be from 50-70% over the freight all kinds rate for Southeast Asia to the US and Europe routes, ranges from $2,000-3,500/FEU. S&P Global Platts Container Market experts Ng Bao Ying and Parisha Tyagi examine how the rise in rates echoes a tight container shipping market. Brian Ng, Platts agriculture market specialist, joins in to share insights on the impact of shipping rate and logistical issues on India’s sugar exports. Learn more: Platts Container Price Assessments Get in touch with our team: containers@spglobal.com

Mexico's Pemex recently announced it had discovered more than 1.2 billion barrels of oil equivalent in an onshore complex in the state of Tabasco, near the site where the company is planning to build its Dos Bocas refinery. That's a large discovery, but there are serious questions about Pemex's ability to reach its stated production goals. S&P Global Platts editors Sheky Espejo in Mexico City and Starr Spencer in Houston examine Mexico's newest discovery.

Brazil's Center-South region will kick off the 2021-22 sugar and ethanol crop season April 1 and producers are betting again on high international sugar prices and depreciated Brazilian real to increase their profitability. Fuel demand was initially forecast to increase in 2021; however, as the country has moved back to further social distancing measures, the forecasts have been revised down. S&P Global Platts editors discuss the main themes to watch in Center-South Brazil in the coming months. Explore now: The Platts Atlas of Energy Transition, your map to the sustainable commodity markets of the future

China consumes around 50% of world's copper and will continue to play a critical role in the market this year. S&P Global Platts metals experts Keith Tan and Han Lu examine China's appetite for copper concentrates as its economy recovers from the coronavirus pandemic. They also discuss what the market can expect in the second quarter, and give methodology and specification details on Platts clean copper concentrate assessments.  To know more about Platts clean copper concentrate assessments, email our team at platts_asia_copper@spglobal.com or download the methodology here. Explore now: The Platts Atlas of Energy Transition, your map to the sustainable commodity markets of the future

US plug-in electric vehicles accounted for 2.6% of total sales in December, tied with Nov. 2020 for a record high and year-to-date PEVs account for just shy of 2% of all light duty vehicles sold in the US, according to S&P Global Platts Analytics. However, recent large orders for electric buses and other fleet vehicles suggest that sector could play a leading role in the proliferation of EVs in the US. In this edition of the Platts Commodities Focus podcast, Jared Anderson, senior writer with S&P Global Platts speaks with John McClure, managing director at Nomura Greentech, about EV market growth, investment trends and how greater EV usage could impact US power markets.

The current European Commission is the greenest ever as it pushes toward carbon neutrality by 2050. Gas —despite being a fossil fuel— is considered by many as having a key role to play in Europe's energy transition, and the industry is working hard on ways to decarbonize gas and secure the future of Europe's vast gas infrastructure, including through the growing use of hydrogen. Following an interview with James Watson, secretary general of industry body Eurogas, S&P Global Platts Stuart Elliott, Henry Edwardes-Evans and James Huckstepp discuss Eurogas' key messages around the role of gas in Europe.