Energy Complex Under Pressure

Market TalkThursday, Mar 18 2021
Pivotal Week For Price Action

Under pressure: The energy complex is facing another wave of selling for a fourth straight day, and the trend-lines that have held up prices for 4.5 months are finally facing a real test. If that support holds, this week’s sell-off may soon be forgotten, but a break down here sets up another 20-30 cents of downside potential for refined products as they correct one of the largest rallies in history.

RBOB futures did trade higher through most of the night, thanks at least in part to reports of a gasoline spill that forced the buckeye pipeline to close one of its lines that feeds the NY harbor area. The line that’s closed primarily delivers to Long Island, and so far it doesn’t seem to be impacting flows around the NYH trading hub, so that impact should be minimal unless the damage is found to be more widespread. Separate reports that one of the last standing refineries on the East Coast was forced to shut several units for unplanned repairs also helped give gasoline prices a boost overnight, but those gains have not lasted, and RBOB futures are now trading nearly 14 cents below the highs set Sunday night.

According to the DOE’s weekly status report there is still roughly 1.5 million barrels/day of refining capacity in the Gulf Coast offline from where run rates were prior to the Polar Plunge in February. The recovery from that event is now taking longer than what we’ve seen in even the most severe hurricanes of the past 20 years, as the impacts were much more widespread, and most plants did not start shutting down operations ahead of the storm, meaning more damage was likely when they were knocked offline. There are also reports that some plants decided to move up maintenance since the facilities were down anyway, which is probably contributing to the slow recovery. While PADD 3 runs still have plenty of room to recover,  PADD 2 run rates have already reached pre-storm levels and PADD 1 refiners have increased rates to Pre-COVID levels, taking advantage of the better margin environment. West Coast (PADD 5) runs are holding steady, while PADD 4 runs remain not much more than a rounding error.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably not using Microsoft Office 365, which published a root cause analysis of the major outage that affected Outlook & Teams and (even worse for the Gen Z crowd) Xbox live nationwide. If it doesn’t make sense how they can publish a root cause analysis on a problem that as of this morning hasn’t been solved, you’re not alone, but don’t worry they’ll keep telling us it’s fixed. In the meantime, if you’re missing a quote or another regular email, please verify with old school methods like texting or tweeting.

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

TACenergy MarketTalk 031821

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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.