Market Talk - 2023 november
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No Official Word From OPEC Yet On Their Output Agreement For Next Year
Energy prices are pushing higher to start Thursday’s session after a big bounce Wednesday helped the complex maintain its upward momentum for the week.
There’s no official word from OPEC yet on their output agreement for next year, but the rumor-mill is in high gear as always leading up to the official announcement, if one is actually made at all. A Reuters article this morning suggests that “sources” believe Saudi Arabia will continue leading the cartel with a voluntary output cut of around 1-million BPD to begin the year and given the recent drop in prices that seems like a logical move.
We saw heavy selling in the immediate wake of the DOE’s weekly report Wednesday, only to see prices reverse course sharply later in the day. ULSD was down more than 9-cents for a few minutes following the report but bounced more than 7-cents in the afternoon and is leading the push higher this morning so far.
It’s common to see demand drop sharply following a holiday, particularly for diesel as many commercial users simply shut down their operations for several days, but last week’s drop in implied diesel demand was one of the largest on record for the DOE’s estimates. That drop in demand, along with higher refinery runs, helped push diesel inventories higher in all markets, and the weekly days of supply estimate jumped from below the 5-year seasonal range around 25 days of supply to above the high end of the range at 37 days of supply based on last week’s estimated usage although it’s all but guaranteed we’ll see a correction higher in demand next week.
Gasoline demand also slumped, dropping to the low end of the seasonal range, and below year-ago levels for the first time in 5-weeks. You’d never guess that based on the bounce in gasoline prices that followed the DOE’s report however, with traders appearing to bet that the demand slump in a seasonal anomaly and tighter than average inventories may drive a counter-seasonal price rally.
Refinery runs increased across the country as plants returned to service following the busiest fall maintenance season in at least 4-years. While total refinery run rates are still below last year’s levels, they’re now above the 5-year average with more room to increase as no major upsets have been reported to keep a large amount of throughput offline.
The exception to the refinery run ramp up comes from PADD 4 which was the only region to see a decline last week after Suncor apparently had another inopportune upset at its beleaguered facility outside Denver.
The 2023 Atlantic Hurricane season officially ends today, and it will go down as the 4th most active season on record, even though it certainly didn’t feel too severe given that the US dodged most of the storms.
Today is also the expiration day for December 2023 ULSD and RBOB futures so look to the January contracts (RBF and HOF) for price direction if your market hasn’t already rolled.
More refineries ready to change hands next year? With Citgo scheduled to be auctioned off, Irving Oil undergoing a strategic evaluation, and multiple new refineries possibly coming online, 2024 was already looking to be a turbulent year for refinery owners. Phillips 66 was indicating that it may sell off some of its refinery assets, but a new activist investor may upend those plans, along with the company’s directors.
Week 48 - US DOE Inventory Recap
The API Reported Gasoline Inventories Dropped By 898,000 Barrels Last Week
Gasoline and oil prices are attempting to rally for a 2nd straight day, a day ahead of the delayed OPEC meeting, while diesel prices are slipping back into the red following Tuesday’s strong showing.
The API reported gasoline inventories dropped by 898,000 barrels last week, crude inventories declined by 817,000 barrels while distillates saw an increase of 2.8 million barrels. Those inventory stats help explain the early increases for RBOB and WTI while ULSD is trading lower. The DOE’s weekly report is due out at its normal time this morning.
A severe storm on the Black Sea is disrupting roughly 2% of the world’s daily oil output and is getting some credit for the bounce in futures, although early reports suggest that this will be a short-lived event.
Chevron reported that its Richmond CA refinery was back online after a power outage Monday night. San Francisco spot diesel basis values rallied more than a dime Tuesday after a big drop on Monday following the news of that refinery being knocked offline.
Just a few days after Scotland’s only refinery announced it would close in 2025, Exxon touted its newest refinery expansion project in the UK Tuesday, with a video detailing how it was ramping up diesel production to reduce imports and possibly allow for SAF production down the road at its Fawley facility.
Ethanol prices continue to slump this week, reaching a 2-year low despite the bounce in gasoline prices as corn values dropped to a 3-year low, and the White House appears to be delaying efforts to shift to E15 in an election year.
Values For Space On Colonial’s Main Gasoline Line Continue To Drop This Week
The petroleum complex continues to search for a price floor with relatively quiet price action this week suggesting some traders are going to wait and see what OPEC and Friends can decide on at their meeting Thursday.
Values for space on Colonial’s main gasoline line continue to drop this week, with trades below 10 cents/gallon after reaching a high north of 18-cents earlier in the month. Softer gasoline prices in New York seems to be driving the slide as the 2 regional refiners who had been down for extended maintenance both return to service. Diesel linespace values continue to hold north of 17-cents/gallon as East Coast stocks are holding at the low end of their seasonal range while Gulf Coast inventories are holding at average levels.
Reversal coming? Yesterday we saw basis values for San Francisco spot diesel plummet to the lowest levels of the year, but then overnight the Chevron refinery in Richmond was forced to shut several units due to a power outage which could cause those differentials to quickly find a bid if the supplier is forced to become a buyer to replace that output.
Money managers continued to reduce the net length held in crude oil contracts, with both Brent and WTI seeing long liquidation and new short positions added last week. Perhaps most notable from the weekly COT report data is that funds are continuing their counter-seasonal bets on higher gasoline prices. The net length held by large speculators for RBOB is now at its highest level since Labor Day, at a time of year when prices tend to drop due to seasonal demand weakness.
After Another Black Friday Selloff Pushed Energy Futures Sharply Lower In Last Week’s Holiday-Shortened Trading
After another Black Friday selloff pushed energy futures sharply lower in last week’s Holiday-shortened trading, we’re seeing a modest bounce this morning. Since spot markets weren’t assessed Thursday or Friday, the net change for prices since Wednesday’s settlement is still down more than 6-cents for gasoline and almost 5-cents for diesel at the moment.
OPEC members are rumored to be nearing a compromise agreement that would allow African producers a higher output quota. Disagreement over that plan was blamed on the cartel delaying its meeting by 4-days last week which contributed to the heavy selling. The bigger problem may come from Russia, who announced plans last week to increase its oil output once its voluntary cut agreement ends now that price cap mechanisms are proving to be ineffective.
While an uneasy truce in Gaza held over the weekend, tensions on the Red Sea continued to escalate with the US Navy intervening to stop another hijacking and being rewarded for its efforts by having missiles fired at one of its ships.
RIN values came under heavy selling pressure Wednesday afternoon following a court overturning the EPA’s ruling to deny small refinery hardship waivers to the RFS. Those exemptions were a big reason we saw RINs drop sharply under the previous administration, and RINs were already on due to the rapid influx of RD supply this year.
More bad news for the food to fuel lobby: the White House is reportedly stalling plans to allow E15 blending year-round after conflicting studies about ethanol’s ability to actually lower carbon emissions, and fuel prices. Spot prices for ethanol in Chicago reached a 2.5 year low just ahead of the holiday.
Baker Hughes reported the US oil rig count held steady at 500 active rigs last week, while natural gas rigs increased by 3.
The first of perhaps several refining casualties caused by the rapid increase in new capacity over the past two years was reported last week. Scotland’s only refinery, which has a capacity of 150mb/day is preparing to shutter in 2025.
The CFTC’s commitment of traders report was delayed due to the holiday and will be released this afternoon.