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Energy Futures Are Bouncing Back This Morning After Their Biggest Daily Drop Since Black Friday

Wednesday, Feb 16 2022
Market Talk

Energy futures are bouncing back this morning after their biggest daily drop since Black Friday as a debate over troop counts, inventory declines and a presidential warning all seem to be encouraging buyers this morning. Equity markets continue to struggle with another troubling inflation report and a flattening yield curve both signaling to many that there may be more economic pain ahead.

As the forward curve charts show, despite the big selloff Tuesday, not much has changed from a week ago. From a chart perspective, the weekly bullish trends are still holding, but there’s no longer much room to spare to the downside if the bulls are going to regain control this week.

While NATO and Russia continue to disagree on just about everything, including whether there are more or less troops surrounding Ukraine, the US President warned that the sanctions planned if Russia does invade will target energy exports, which will likely push prices higher. Given that petroleum prices have already risen 40% or more in the past 2 months (see the PPI inflation note above) the question then becomes whether or not that’s already priced in, and anything less will become a reason to sell in the near future. 

The API reported small inventory draws across the board last week. If the DOE confirms that estimate, it will provide more validation for the backwardation we’re seeing in the forward curves as most US markets outside of the Midwest are tighter on days of supply than they typically are this time of year, setting the stage for more product allocations and outages as demand ramps up this spring. 

Speaking of outages:  Another winter storm is sweeping the country, and is expected to bring severe thunderstorms with it. Unlike the last 3 storms however, it’s not expected to bring the cold snap, snow and ice to parts of the south that disrupted both refinery operations and travel. While overnight temperatures will dip below freezing for most of Southeast, day time tempts will still be pushing mid 50s which should help limit the surge in electricity demand that might hamper a diesel supply network that’s been caught flat footed this winter. That sigh of relief seems to help explain why the March HO contract went negative in the past few minutes after being up 4 cents overnight, while the rest of the complex is holding onto gains.

The relatively tight gasoline markets should make the spring RVP transition a bit easier for inventory holders, and may limit the amount of price dumping that often happens as the deadlines loom. The refiners that survived the COVID crisis look to be in a great position now as crack spreads have rebounded nicely and the forward curve shows them staying in positive territory for the next few years.

The EIA continues to predict that US oil production will hit record highs this year and next, even though the weekly stats have yet to show much increase in output so far this year. The Permian basin is expected to account for 6 out of every 7 new barrels of oil produced in the country this year according to the report, while other basins will take on more of the burden next year.  

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

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