Disappearing Rallies Are Becoming A Theme In The Energy Arena
Disappearing rallies are becoming a theme in the energy arena this week as Wednesday’s action saw 10 cent overnight gains erased throughout the day, and already Thursday we’ve seen nickel gains overnight turn into 3 cent losses early going. The smack downs of any attempted bounce are adding to the bearish sentiment on the charts, and leaving the complex at risk of another sharp selloff in the back half of the week.
There is no doubt that fear is taking hold of both equity and energy markets, with volatility indices soaring to 1 year highs, and each mention of a new Omicron case seeming to have an immediately negative impact on prices, particularly now that the FED seems to be changing its stance, and viewing the virus as an inflation risk, not a reason to create more inflation themselves as they’ve done the past 2 years.
The best hope for a recovery rally that’s able to last more than a few hours may come from the OPEC & Friends meeting this morning, if the cartel agrees to pause or reverse its output increases due to the Omicron outbreak and its expected impact on global fuel demand. Then again, the guesses that the cartel may change course today have been increasing all week and yet prices continue to fall.
The DOE’s weekly report was largely shrugged off and overshadowed by the Omicron in the US story Wednesday, but there are some bearish fundamentals that won’t help encourage buyers to step in and buy the dip. US Crude oil production reached an 18 month high, even though there’s still a quarter million gallons per day of production offline from Hurricane Ida, and numerous bottlenecks in the supply chain slowing the rate of drilling. As those two issues are worked through in 2022, it’s likely we will see US output jump north of 12 million barrels/day at a time when the world doesn’t seem to need more supply.
Speaking of which, the report also showed a large pullback in US fuel demand, particularly in gasoline, and with the holiday hangover not yet in the numbers, we could see another big drop in consumption in the weeks to come.
While the meltdown in futures is getting most of the attention this week, prices in the Pacific Northwest have been resisting the trend with basis values jumping sharply higher as at least 3 refineries in the region are still having to reduce run rates due to a lack of crude oil supply caused by last month’s flooding. The good news for suppliers in the region is that Transmountain pipeline is still on track to restart next week which should bring relief to those plants in short order.