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Diesel Prices Have Hit A Record High This Morning

Thursday, Apr 28 2022
Market Talk

Diesel prices have hit a record high this morning as global markets are experiencing a Lord of the Flies moment as they come to terms with the shortage of oil products, both edible and fossil.

RINs are rallying to their highest levels in almost a year as Indonesia’s palm oil export ban was expanded to include unrefined oils, which is setting off another frantic scramble for replacements to process all sorts of foods, fuels and other products. 

While ULSD futures have reached all-time highs, only the NY Harbor spot market is trading above where it peaked out in March, while other cash markets around the US are still well below their peaks. The extreme backwardation that has been well documented over the past month is a primary driver of this spread between markets, and also makes resupply a challenge when there’s a 70 cent price drop looming in the next 30 days. 

Prompt diesel prices in the Chicago market are trading more than $1/gallon below those in the NY Harbor, so if you live in PA you might notice a few more tankers heading east this week as those with both the supply and the freight capacity could net $5,000 or more per load.  While it’s not unusual to see Chicago trade at steep discounts to neighboring markets at times, it is unusual to see San Francisco spot diesel trading nearly $1 below NYH values, especially given the reduction in operable refining capacity in the bay area in recent years. 

The big question for the months ahead is whether the other US markets will rally to meet New York, or if New York will collapse to get in line with its neighbors. It seems likely that 80 cent backwardation won’t last long (just as 15 cent backwardation which shocked the world in 2008 didn’t) and the divergence between regional markets can often be the precursor to a trend reversal. That said, total US diesel inventories remain well below their normal range, and international buyers are frantic, so it’s much too soon to say this rally is coming to an end. 

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

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