2 Days Of Heavy Selling That Rank Top 5 All Time For Refined Products

Market TalkThursday, Jul 7 2022
Pivotal Week For Price Action

After 2 days of heavy selling that rank top 5 all time for refined products, we saw a quiet overnight session as a different kind of Brexit dominated the news, followed by a modest rally attempt just before 8am.  

The summer price drop has been severe, wiping out half of the 7 month rally in less than a month, and leaves the complex susceptible to more selling short term even though there are signs that we may be setting up for a period of consolidation after the rally finally broke. 

The first test for gasoline and diesel prices will come in the early hours of trading to determine if the modest overnight gains can hold, or if another wave of selling will hit after trading activity picks up as we’ve seen the past couple of days.  

The API reported a build in crude oil inventories of 3.8 million barrels (thanks in large part to another 6 million barrels released from the SPR) while gasoline and diesel inventories both had small declines last week.

The EIA is still catching up on its data releases after 3 weeks of delays caused by hardware issues with its servers. The weekly status report should be back to normal this morning, and the weekly gasoline and diesel price update (which many companies use for their fuel surcharge tables) will be released later this afternoon with 3 weeks’ worth of data, before resuming its normal schedule next week.  

The big pullback in product prices has knocked nearly $20/barrel off of basic crack spreads after they reached record highs 2 weeks ago. The good news is that despite a pullback of nearly 50 cents/gallon, current margin levels are still plenty high to encourage US refiners to keep running full out with most averaging north of $30/barrel, which is more than double the average for this time of year.  

The Los Angeles spot market has seen the worst of the selloff this week, with spot values for CARBOB gasoline down 67 cents in 2 sessions, compared to “only” a 45 cent drop for RBOB futures as West Coast inventories sit above the top end of their seasonal range.  In addition, China has increased its export quotas, which should allow its underutilized refineries a chance to cash in on the big margins globally, and could end up meaning more options for West Coast buyers.

Group 3 diesel prices have resisted the sell-off, rallying to a 40 cent premium over futures – the after months of being one of the weakest values in the country left shippers with an easy choice to send their barrels to other parts of the world instead of the Midwest. 

Click here to download a PDF of today's TACenergy Market Talk.

Market Talk Update 7-07-2022

News & Views

View All
Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkThursday, Mar 30 2023

Refined Products Are Moving Lower For A 2nd Day After Coming Under Heavy Selling Pressure In Wednesday’s Session

Refined products are moving lower for a 2nd day after coming under heavy selling pressure in Wednesday’s session. Rapidly increasing refinery runs and sluggish diesel demand both seemed to weigh heavily on product prices, while crude oil is still benefitting from the disruption of exports from Iraq. Prices remain range-bound, so expect more choppy back and forth action in the weeks ahead.

US oil inventories saw a large decline last week, despite another 13-million barrels of oil being found in the weekly adjustment figure, as imports dropped to a 2-year low, and refinery runs cranked up in most regions as many facilities return from spring maintenance.

The refining utilization percentage jumped to its highest level of the year but remains overstated since the new 250,000 barrels/day of output from Exxon’s Beaumont facility still isn’t being counted in the official capacity figures. If you’re shocked that the government report could have such a glaring omission, then you haven’t been paying attention to the Crude Adjustment figure this year, and the artificially inflated petroleum demand estimates that have come with it.

Speaking of which, we’re now just a couple of months away from WTI Midland crude oil being included in the Dated Brent index, and given the uncertainty in the US over what should be classified as oil vs condensate, expect some confusion once those barrels start being included in the international benchmark as well.  

Diesel demand continues to hover near the lowest levels we’ve seen for the first quarter in the past 20+ years, dropping sharply again last week after 2 straight weeks of increases had some markets hoping that the worst was behind us. Now that we’re moving out of the heating season, we’ll soon get more clarity on how on road and industrial demand is holding up on its own in the weekly figures that have been heavily influenced by the winter that wasn’t across large parts of the country.

Speaking of which, the EIA offered another mea culpa of sorts Wednesday by comparing its October Winter Fuels outlook to the current reality, which shows a huge reduction in heating demand vs expectations just 6-months ago.  

It’s not just domestic consumption of diesel that’s under pressure, exports have fallen below their 5-year average as buyers in South America are buying more Russian barrels, and European nations are getting more from new facilities in the Middle East.

Take a look at the spike in PADD 5 gasoline imports last week to get a feel for how the region may soon be forced to adjust to rapidly increasing refining capacity in Asia, while domestic facilities come under pressure

Click here to download a PDF of today's TACenergy Market Talk, including all charts from the Weekly DOE Report.

Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkWednesday, Mar 29 2023

Crude Oil Prices Are Trying To Lead Another Rally In Energy Futures This Morning

Crude oil prices are trying to lead another rally in energy futures this morning, while ULSD prices are resisting the pull higher. Stocks are pointed higher in the early going as no news is seen as good news in the banking crisis.

WTI prices have rallied by $10/barrel in the past 7 trading days, even with a $5 pullback last Thursday and Friday. The recovery puts WTI back in the top half of its March trading range but there’s still another $7 to go before the highs of the month are threatened. 

Yesterday’s API report seems to be aiding the continued strength in crude, with a 6 million barrel inventory decline estimated by the industry group last week. That report also showed a decline of 5.9 million barrels of gasoline which is consistent with the spring pattern of drawdowns as we move through the RVP transition, while distillates saw a build of 550k barrels. The DOE’s weekly report is due out at its normal time this morning. 

Diesel prices seems to be reacting both to the small build in inventories – which is yet another data point of the weak demand so far this year for distillates – and on the back of crumbling natural gas prices that settled at their lowest levels in 2.5 years yesterday and fell below $2/million BTU this morning. 

While diesel futures are soft, rack markets across the Southwestern US remain unusually tight, with spreads vs spot markets approaching $1/gallon in several cases as local refiners go through maintenance and pipeline capacity for resupply remains limited. The tightest supply in the region however remains the Phoenix CBG boutique gasoline grade which is going for $1.20/gallon over spots as several of the few refineries that can make that product are having to perform maintenance at the same time. 

French refinery strikes continue for a 4th week and are estimated to be keeping close to 1 million barrels/day of fuel production offline, which is roughly 90% of French capacity and almost 1% of total global capacity. That disruption is having numerous ripple effects on crude oil markets in the Atlantic basin, while the impact on refined product supplies and prices remains much more contained than it was when this happened just 5 months ago.

Click here to download a PDF of today's TACenergy Market Talk.

Pivotal Week For Price Action