Demand Fears Seem To Lurk Around Every Corner

Market TalkTuesday, Aug 4 2020
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After a strong bounce turned losses into gains Monday, energy prices are coming under modest selling pressure again to start Tuesday’s session. Demand fears seem to lurk around every corner as COVID case counts continue to climb and a large portion of the U.S. population has to grapple with a tropical storm.

Isaias made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane on the North Carolina coast overnight, and is bringing tropical storm conditions to most of the mid-Atlantic states as it moves inland up the I-95 corridor today. It would not be surprising to have issues at the Philadelphia-area or near NJ refineries due to heavy winds or power outages, as the storm is on a path to head right over most of the PADD 1 production facilities. That potential for damage likely contributed to Monday’s strong RBOB rally, although the risks of a supply disruption are lowered by the reduced run rates and ample inventories in the region. The potential impact on demand could be more widespread, although there too, with so many already working from home, the impact could be less than we would expect any other year.

While Monday’s RBOB rally certainly took some of the downward pressure off the contract near term, the weekly charts continue to show a rounding top pattern that threatens a move back below the $1 mark in the next couple of months.  In order to break that pattern we’ll need to see RBOB rally above the $1.30 range. With just a few weeks left of the Summer-Grade futures contract, the clock is ticking for that rally to happen.

Today’s interesting read:  This Bloomberg article that discovered a small trading shop that made big money when WTI prices went negative. 

The EIA this morning took a closer look at the record-setting drop in U.S. oil production this spring as the worst of the COVID shutdowns took place. The report notes how production shut-ins nearly doubled previous records which were caused by hurricanes. 

BP was the latest major oil company to announce huge losses for the second quarter, and laid out its strategy to “reinvent” the company with a focus on lower-carbon energy technology, and cut its dividend for the first time in more than a decade.

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Market TalkWednesday, Jun 7 2023

Energy Prices Fluctuate: Chinese Imports Surge, Saudi Arabia Cuts Output and Buys Golf

Energy prices continue their back-and-forth trading, starting Wednesday’s session with modest gains, after a round of selling Tuesday wiped out the Saudi output cut bounce. 

A surge in China’s imports of crude oil and natural gas seem to be the catalyst for the early move higher, even though weak export activity from the world’s largest fuel buyer suggests the global economy is still struggling. 

New tactic?  Saudi Arabia’s plan to voluntarily cut oil production by another 1 million barrels/day failed to sustain a rally in oil prices to start the week, so they bought the PGA tour

The EIA’s monthly Short Term Energy Outlook raised its price forecast for oil, citing the Saudi cuts, and OPEC’s commitment to extend current production restrictions through 2024. The increase in prices comes despite reducing the forecast for US fuel consumption, as GDP growth projections continue to decline from previous estimates. 

The report included a special article on diesel consumption, and its changing relationship with economic activity that does a good job of explaining why diesel prices are $2/gallon cheaper today than they were a year ago.   

The API reported healthy builds in refined product inventories last week, with distillates up 4.5 million barrels while gasoline stocks were up 2.4 million barrels in the wake of Memorial Day. Crude inventories declined by 1.7 million barrels on the week. The DOE’s weekly report is due out at its normal time this morning. 

We’re still waiting on the EPA’s final ruling on the Renewable Fuel Standard for the next few years, which is due a week from today, but another Reuters article suggests that eRINs will not be included in this round of making up the rules.

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

Pivotal Week For Price Action
Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkTuesday, Jun 6 2023

Energy Prices Retreat, Global Demand Concerns Loom

So much for that rally. Energy prices have given back all of the gains made following Saudi Arabia’s announcement that it would voluntarily withhold another 1 million barrels/day of oil production starting in July. The pullback appears to be rooted in the ongoing concerns over global demand after a soft PMI report for May while markets start to focus on what the FED will do at its FOMC meeting next week.

The lack of follow through to the upside leaves petroleum futures stuck in neutral technical territory, and since the top end of the recent trading range didn’t break, it seems likely we could see another test of the lower end of the range in the near future.  

RIN prices have dropped sharply in the past few sessions, with traders apparently not waiting on the EPA’s final RFS ruling – due in a week – to liquidate positions. D6 values dropped to their lowest levels in a year Monday, while D4 values hit a 15-month low. In unrelated news, the DOE’s attempt to turn seaweed into biofuels has run into a whale problem.  

Valero reported a process leak at its Three Rivers TX refinery that lasted a fully 24 hours.  That’s the latest in a string of upsets for south Texas refineries over the past month that have kept supplies from San Antonio, Austin and DFW tighter than normal. Citgo Corpus Christi also reported an upset over the weekend at a sulfur recovery unit. Several Corpus facilities have been reporting issues since widespread power outages knocked all of the local plants offline last month.  

Meanwhile, the Marathon Galveston Bay (FKA Texas City) refinery had another issue over the weekend as an oil movement line was found to be leaking underground but does not appear to have impacted refining operations at the facility. Gulf Coast traders don’t seem concerned by any of the latest refinery issues, with basis values holding steady to start the week.

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