Diesel Prices Up 60 Cents Since Bottoming Out 2 Weeks Ago As ULSD Futures Try To Drag Energy Complex Higher

Market TalkMonday, Aug 22 2022
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Diesel prices are up 60 cents since bottoming out 2 weeks ago, as ULSD futures are trying to drag the energy complex higher to start Monday’s session.  A test of $3.80, which twice marked a temporary price top in July, looks like it could be pivotal this week, with a break above that level opening the door for a run to $4.20 as we head into fall.

So far oil markets are not reacting much to news of the latest suspicious shutdown at the CPC export facilities that transport around 1 million barrels/day of crude from Kazakhstan through Russia to markets around the world.   Instead, it seems like an early slide in crude oil is being blamed on the renewed chances of a deal with Iran that could bring another 1-2 million barrels/day back onto the world market in 6 months or less if negotiations actually go somewhere this time.

Money managers were acting bullish on refined products, and bearish on crude oil last week, with the large speculative category of traders making big additions to bets on higher prices in Gasoil and gasoline contracts, while WTI and Brent saw their net length decrease by 8% or more.  RBOB, ULSD and Brent all saw notable increases in open interest last week, but levels remain near 5-7 year lows as funds continue to largely stay on the sidelines.

The storm system moving over the Gulf of Mexico the past few days failed to develop as it moved towards the coast.  The NHC is tracking another system moving across the Atlantic this week, although it is given just 20% odds of developing so far.

Baker Hughes reported no change in the count of total US oil rigs drilling last week, while the natural gas rig count dropped by 1.   The past 4 weeks have seen a stall in the slow but steady increase in drilling activity and may mean we don’t see rig counts reach pre-pandemic levels by year-end unless they start to pick up soon.

Snakebit:  The refinery FKA Hovensa and FKA Limetree Bay best known for losing billions of dollars last year in a failed bid to restart operations caught fire again over the weekend, even though the facility remains largely shuttered.  Speaking of snakebit refineries; Pemex officials have requested another $6.5 billion to finish the Dos Bocas plant that is now on pace to be almost double the original budget, if it’s completed at all, despite already having a grand opening party.

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Market Talk Update 8-22-22

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Pivotal Week For Price Action
Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkWednesday, Nov 29 2023

The API Reported Gasoline Inventories Dropped By 898,000 Barrels Last Week

Gasoline and oil prices are attempting to rally for a 2nd straight day, a day ahead of the delayed OPEC meeting, while diesel prices are slipping back into the red following Tuesday’s strong showing. 

The API reported gasoline inventories dropped by 898,000 barrels last week, crude inventories declined by 817,000 barrels while distillates saw an increase of 2.8 million barrels. Those inventory stats help explain the early increases for RBOB and WTI while ULSD is trading lower. The DOE’s weekly report is due out at its normal time this morning. 

A severe storm on the Black Sea is disrupting roughly 2% of the world’s daily oil output and is getting some credit for the bounce in futures, although early reports suggest that this will be a short-lived event. 

Chevron reported that its Richmond CA refinery was back online after a power outage Monday night. San Francisco spot diesel basis values rallied more than a dime Tuesday after a big drop on Monday following the news of that refinery being knocked offline.

Just a few days after Scotland’s only refinery announced it would close in 2025, Exxon touted its newest refinery expansion project in the UK Tuesday, with a video detailing how it was ramping up diesel production to reduce imports and possibly allow for SAF production down the road at its Fawley facility. 

Ethanol prices continue to slump this week, reaching a 2-year low despite the bounce in gasoline prices as corn values dropped to a 3-year low, and the White House appears to be delaying efforts to shift to E15 in an election year. 

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Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkTuesday, Nov 28 2023

Values For Space On Colonial’s Main Gasoline Line Continue To Drop This Week

The petroleum complex continues to search for a price floor with relatively quiet price action this week suggesting some traders are going to wait and see what OPEC and Friends can decide on at their meeting Thursday. 

Values for space on Colonial’s main gasoline line continue to drop this week, with trades below 10 cents/gallon after reaching a high north of 18-cents earlier in the month. Softer gasoline prices in New York seems to be driving the slide as the 2 regional refiners who had been down for extended maintenance both return to service. Diesel linespace values continue to hold north of 17-cents/gallon as East Coast stocks are holding at the low end of their seasonal range while Gulf Coast inventories are holding at average levels.

Reversal coming?  Yesterday we saw basis values for San Francisco spot diesel plummet to the lowest levels of the year, but then overnight the Chevron refinery in Richmond was forced to shut several units due to a power outage which could cause those differentials to quickly find a bid if the supplier is forced to become a buyer to replace that output.

Money managers continued to reduce the net length held in crude oil contracts, with both Brent and WTI seeing long liquidation and new short positions added last week. Perhaps most notable from the weekly COT report data is that funds are continuing their counter-seasonal bets on higher gasoline prices. The net length held by large speculators for RBOB is now at its highest level since Labor Day, at a time of year when prices tend to drop due to seasonal demand weakness. 

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