Baker Hughes Reported A Decline Of 7 Oil Rigs Drilling In The US, While The Natural Gas Rig Count Held Steady

Market TalkMonday, Feb 27 2023
Pivotal Week For Price Action

It’s another mixed bag for energy markets to start the week, with ULSD trying to follow through on its strong showing Friday, while RBOB is flat and WTI is trading modestly lower to start the day. 

Natural gas prices have rebounded sharply in the past 4 days, reaching $2.69 overnight after trading as low as $1.96 last Wednesday. The restart of the Freeport export facility, and some forecast models calling for below average temps in March after a much warmer than normal winter are both getting credit for that rally, which is no doubt having some positive impact on ULSD prices which have rallied 15 cents since reaching their lowest levels in 13 months last week, just as natural gas prices were bottoming out.

The CFTC issued its first set of commitments of trader's data in nearly a month Friday, releasing data originally scheduled to be published from January 31. The agency hopes to get caught up with its reporting by Mid-March. In case you were wondering, the contracts directly impacted by the cyber-attack, based on the latest update were “IFED MISO IN RT Off-Peak and CME USD Malaysian Crude Palm Oil Calendar Spread contract markets”. Somehow, I think the world could have managed without seeing the COT data on those two contracts.   

While we’re still a couple of weeks behind for NYMEX contracts, we can see the money flows in ICE Brent and Gasoil contracts, and no surprise there it’s been steady liquidation by hedge funds for diesel contracts so far in February as prices have crumbled. 

Baker Hughes reported a decline of 7 oil rigs drilling in the US, while the natural gas rig count held steady. California, New Mexico, Oklahoma and West Virginia all had a decline of 2 or more rigs on the week, while Texas held steady. Canada looks like it has topped out for its winter drilling season, with a reduction of 5 rigs on the week. 

Russia’s influence on European energy supplies continues to be a wild card, with changes continuing on a near daily basis. Over the weekend we saw reports that Russia was allowing shipments of crude from Kazakhstan to Germany to begin flowing after delaying them for several weeks only then to find out that Russia had cut off shipments to Poland due to “paperwork issues”. Neither event seemed to have much influence on futures prices but serve as a reminder that despite the relative calm that’s taken over markets so far in 2023, there are still plenty of unknowns in the global supply network this year.

The Deer Park TX refinery was forced to shut its smaller crude unit after a fire on Thursday, which was one of 3 fires to hit owner Pemex’s operations in the US and Mexico that day. 

So far there are no reports of major issues at California refineries following the blizzard, although power outages in the region were numerous.  

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Market Talk Update 02.27.2023

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Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkThursday, Feb 29 2024

It's Another Mixed Start For Energy Futures This Morning After Refined Products Saw Some Heavy Selling Wednesday

It's another mixed start for energy futures this morning after refined products saw some heavy selling Wednesday. Both gasoline and diesel prices dropped 7.5-8.5 cents yesterday despite a rather mundane inventory report. The larger-than-expected build in crude oil inventories (+4.2 million barrels) was the only headline value of note, netting WTI futures a paltry 6-cent per barrel gain on the day.

The energy markets seem to be holding their breath for this morning’s release of the Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). The price index is the Fed’s preferred inflation monitor and has the potential to impact how the central bank moves forward with interest rates.

Nationwide refinery runs are still below their 5-year average with utilization across all PADDs well below 90%. While PADD 3 production crossed its 5-year average, it’s important to note that measure includes the “Snovid” shutdown of 2021 and throughput is still below the previous two years with utilization at 81%.

We will have to wait until next week to see if the FCC and SRU shutdowns at Flint Hills’ Corpus Christi refinery will have a material impact on the regions refining totals. Detail on the filing can be found on the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality website.

Update: the PCE data shows a decrease in US inflation to 2.4%, increasing the likelihood of a rate cut later this year. Energy futures continue drifting, unfazed.

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
Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkWednesday, Feb 28 2024

It’s Red Across The Board For Energy Prices So Far This Morning With The ‘Big Three’ Contracts All Trading Lower To Start The Day

It’s red across the board for energy prices so far this morning with the ‘big three’ contracts (RBOB, HO, WTI) all trading lower to start the day. Headlines are pointing to the rise in crude oil inventories as the reason for this morning’s pullback, but refined product futures are leading the way lower, each trading down 1% so far, while the crude oil benchmark is only down around .3%.

The American Petroleum Institute published their national inventory figures yesterday afternoon, estimating an 8+ million-barrel build in crude oil inventory across the country. Gasoline and diesel stocks are estimated to have dropped by 3.2 and .5 million barrels last week, respectively. The official report from the Department of Energy is due out at its regular time this morning (9:30 CST).

OPEC’n’friends are rumored to be considering extending their voluntary production cuts into Q2 of this year in an effort to buoy market prices. These output reductions, reaching back to late 2022, are aimed at paring back global supply by about 2.2 million barrels per day and maintaining a price floor. On the flip side, knowledge of the suspended-yet-available production capacity and record US output is keeping a lid on prices.

How long can they keep it up? While the cartel’s de facto leader (Saudi Arabia) may be financially robust enough to sustain itself through reduced output indefinitely, that isn’t the case for other member countries. Late last year Angola announced it will be leaving OPEC, freeing itself to produce and market its oil as it wishes. This marks the fourth membership suspension over the past decade (Indonesia 2016, Qatar 2019, Ecuador 2020).

The spot price for Henry Hub natural gas hit a record low, exchanging hands for an average of $1.50 per MMBtu yesterday. A rise in production over the course of 2023 and above average temperatures this winter have pressured the benchmark to a price not seen in its 27-year history, much to Russia’s chagrin.

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