A Strong Start To July

Market TalkThursday, Jul 1 2021
Pivotal Week For Price Action

It’s a strong start to July with refined products rallying more than a nickel in the early going, and crude oil prices reaching fresh 2.5 year highs. The OPEC meeting is underway and will likely create some volatility today as rumors start trickling out of the meeting ahead of the official announcement. 

Tropical storm Elsa has formed in the Atlantic, and looks like it will hit Florida early next week. It’s still early in the season so the waters haven’t reached their warmest levels yet which should keep this storm from reaching hurricane strength. The forecast cone currently keeps the storm east of the oil refining and production region of the Gulf of Mexico, and if that holds, this should not be a supply threat beyond some headaches in the ports as the storm passes. 

Wednesday’s DOE report added to the bullish sentiment for oil as US inventories saw another large decline, a 6th straight week of falling inventories, and one of the largest monthly declines on record. Total US Petroleum demand climbed for a third straight week and is holding above its seasonal average for this time of year. The exception in the report was gasoline, which saw a drop in the weekly demand estimate and a build in inventories. The DOE also reduced its gasoline demand estimates from the spring in its latest monthly update, although that’s done little to stop the rally as RBOB futures just reached their highest level in nearly 7 years in the past few minutes.

The exception to the weaker gasoline fundamentals is the PADD 4, which has by far the fewest people and thus the least amount of gasoline of the districts and is typically ignored in the weekly statistics given its volume amounts to a rounding error. This week however it could be the canary in the coal mine for the industry as it deals with the resumption in demand following so many refinery closures in the past year. Regional inventories have dropped to their lowest levels in nearly a decade as Colorado’s sole refinery struggles through a turnaround, and 2 of the main backup options nearby are no longer operating as oil refineries.

RINs have been uncharacteristically quiet the past couple of days after the Supreme Court ruling rippled through the market Friday and Monday. That relative lack of volatility may not last long however as grain prices saw a strong rally following the USDA’s crop report which showed fewer acres planted than many reports expected, setting the stage for stronger values in the back half of the week.

Abandoning ship: Shell continues to shed assets, with a sale of its share in a California production JV coming according to a new Reuters report. Meanwhile, Chevron is looking to sell some of its stake in the Permian, which should provide a good test of the new theory that US producers are showing discipline in their spending even now that prices are near 3 year highs pushing companies back into the black.

The EIA this morning published a note highlighting that non-fossil fuel sources reached 21% of total energy consumption in the US last year, the highest levels in more than a century, when wood was the renewable energy of choice. The report does point out that Nuclear power remains the largest non-fossil fuel category by usage, while petroleum’s share has held relatively steady the past several years. Those various sources of energy are facing multiple tests this week as temperatures & electricity usage have surged from coast to coast.  

Another EIA report yesterday highlighted vulnerable areas of the country’s power grid this summer, with the majority of the country listed as an elevated or high risk of outage. New York was one of the relatively few states given a low risk status in the report, and right on cue, government officials are calling for conservation this week as the heat wave is giving their grid a tough test.

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

TACenergy Market Update 070121

News & Views

View All
Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkFriday, Dec 1 2023

“Buy The Rumor, Sell The News” Seems To Be The Trading Pattern Of The Week

“Buy the Rumor, Sell the News” seems to be the trading pattern of the week as oil and refined products dropped sharply Thursday after OPEC & Friends announced another round of output cuts for the first quarter of next year. 

Part of the reason for the decline following that report is that it appears that the cartel wasn’t able to reach an official agreement on the plan for next year, prompting those that could volunteer their own production cuts without forcing restrictions on others. In addition, OPEC members not named Saudi Arabia are notorious for exceeding official quotas when they are able to, and Russia appears to be (surprise) playing games by announcing a cut that is made up of both crude oil and refined products, which are already restricted and thus allow an incremental increase of exports. 

Diesel futures are leading the way lower this morning, following a 13-cent drop from their morning highs Thursday, and came within 3-cents of a new 4-month low overnight. The prompt contract did leave a gap on the chart due to the backwardation between December and January contracts, which cut out another nickel from up front values.

Gasoline futures meanwhile are down 15-cents from yesterday’s pre-OPEC highs and are just 7-cents away from reaching a new 1-year low.  

Cash markets across most of the country are looking soft as they often do this time of year, with double digit discounts to futures becoming the rule across the Gulf Coast and Mid Continent. The West Coast is mixed with diesel prices seeing big discounts in San Francisco, despite multiple refinery upsets this week, while LA clings to small premiums. 

Ethanol prices continue to hold near multi-year lows this week as controversy over the fuel swirls. Corn growing states filed a motion this week trying to compel the courts to force the EPA to waive pollution laws to allow E15 blends. Meanwhile, the desire to grow even more corn to produce Jet Fuel is being hotly debated as the environmental impacts depend on which side of the food to fuel lobby you talk to.

The chaotic canal congestion in Panama is getting worse as authorities are continuing to reduce the daily number of ships transiting due to low water levels. Those delays are hitting many industries, energy included, and are now spilling over to one of the world’s other key shipping bottlenecks.

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

Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkThursday, Nov 30 2023

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.

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