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

Market TalkWednesday, Feb 16 2022
Pivotal Week For Price Action

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.

Market Talk Update 02.16.22

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Market TalkFriday, Mar 1 2024

Oil Futures Are Leading The Energy Complex In A Modest Rally To Begin March Trading

Oil futures are leading the energy complex in a modest rally to begin March trading, with WTI and Brent both up around $1.50/barrel, while refined products are adding around 2 cents in the early going.

RBOB gasoline futures rolled to a summer-grade RVP with the April contract in prompt position this morning. West Coast cash markets are already converted to summer grades, so they’re holding their premiums to futures, while the markets east of the Rockies are now trading at substantial discounts to futures as they move through their remaining winter-cycles over the next 4-6 weeks. The high trade for the April RBOB contract last month was just north of $2.63, which sets the first layer of resistance to a March madness gasoline rally just about 3 cents north of current values.

While gasoline looks somewhat bullish on the charts, and has seasonal factors working in its favor, diesel prices look weak in comparison with prices reaching a 6-week low Thursday before finally finding a bid, and the roll to April futures cut out 3 cents from prompt values. Diesel prices also don’t enjoy the seasonal benefits of gasoline, with a winter-that-wasn’t offering no help for supplemental diesel demand to replace natural gas in the US or Europe.

Speaking of winter weather, the West Coast continues to get the worst of it in 2024, with a casual 10 feet of snow with 100+ mile an hour wind gusts hitting the Sierra Nevada range. While the worst of that winter storm is happening far from the coast, the San Francisco bay area is under a gale warning starting this afternoon.

The wildfires in the Texas panhandle are now the largest in state history, impacting more than 1 million acres of land. The P66 Borger refinery is caught between the blazes, but so far has not reported any operational issues or plans to change operations at the facility. Valero’s McKee refinery is located just 50 miles from Borger, but looks to be far enough north and West to not be threatened by the fires, for now at least.

Mass Exxodus? A Reuters report noted that Exxon had notified its traders that it was cutting their salaries, in another sign that the major’s move back into trading wasn’t going so well. Exxon’s Exodus has already been a bit of a joke for the past few years, and now that the traders are being targeted, don’t be surprised if the cube photos are taken to a new level.

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

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