Energy Futures Are Moving Higher For A 2nd Day

Market TalkTuesday, Apr 5 2022
Pivotal Week For Price Action

Energy futures are moving higher for a 2nd day as supply shortages and the threat of more sanctions make last week’s SPR release more of a distant memory. The recovery rally after last week’s sell-off keeps the bullish trend lines in place and leaves the door open to another run at the $4 mark for refined products, even as Chinese COVID cases hit a new high and threatens to crimp global demand.

Saudi Arabia raised its oil prices in May, to record high differentials for some Asian markets, reflecting the continued challenges for buyers to find near term supplies to replace the loss of Russian exports. 

Just one more reason not to fly to New York: Last Thursday we mentioned the spike in NY Harbor Jet Fuel prices, which at the time had surged by more than $1/gallon over ULSD/HO futures. That price spike went completely wheels off in the following two sessions, with NYH spot prices now trading $4 above futures, and threatening to reach $8/gallon. Take a look at the chart below and note how this move made the record setting price swings in March seem quaint by comparison. There’s a well-known saying that the best cure for high prices is high prices, and this could be another example as this mind-blowing price spike hits the East Coast, and will encourage steps like waiving the Jones Act to allow the US to supply itself and alleviate these short-term shortages. 

While it pales in comparison to Jet prices, ULSD basis in the NY Harbor is also holding near record highs at more than 35 cents above NY Harbor ULSD futures. That premium boils down to a premium paid to have barrels now, vs at the end of May when the prompt futures contract would be delivered. That extreme backwardation is leading to huge swings in both directions for basis differentials around the country, depending on which futures contract that market is trading in reference to.  See the 2nd chart below.

Too late for a do-over?  Global refining margins have rarely been as high as they are currently, with outages across Russia and Ukraine caused directly or indirectly by the war, some European and Asian facilities facing feedstock shortages, and several US plants struggling with unplanned maintenance, you start to wonder if any of the facilities shuttered or sold in the past 18 months may attempt a comeback. Just yesterday Vertex closed on its purchase of Shell’s refinery in Mobile AL that was part of Shell’s refinery giveaway when going green was still the thing to do.  It sure seems like you could get more than $75 million for a 91MMB/Day facility on the Gulf Coast today.

Circular logic. The EIA this morning highlighted California’s Cap & Trade program, and noted the sharp increase in credit prices at the most recent auction, bringing in nearly $1 billion for the state. That $1 billion would cover about 10% of the cost of the CA Governor’s proposed plan to give a $400 rebate to vehicle owners to help offset high fuel prices

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

Market Talk Update 4.5.22

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Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkFriday, Apr 19 2024

Gasoline Futures Are Leading The Way Lower This Morning

It was a volatile night for markets around the world as Israel reportedly launched a direct strike against Iran. Many global markets, from equities to currencies to commodities saw big swings as traders initially braced for the worst, then reversed course rapidly once Iran indicated that it was not planning to retaliate. Refined products spiked following the initial reports, with ULSD futures up 11 cents and RBOB up 7 at their highest, only to reverse to losses this morning. Equities saw similar moves in reverse overnight as a flight to safety trade soon gave way to a sigh of relief recovery.

Gasoline futures are leading the way lower this morning, adding to the argument that we may have seen the spring peak in prices a week ago, unless some actual disruption pops up in the coming weeks. The longer term up-trend is still intact and sets a near-term target to the downside roughly 9 cents below current values. ULSD meanwhile is just a nickel away from setting new lows for the year, which would open up a technical trap door for prices to slide another 30 cents as we move towards summer.

A Reuters report this morning suggests that the EPA is ready to announce another temporary waiver of smog-prevention rules that will allow E15 sales this summer as political winds continue to prove stronger than any legitimate environmental agenda. RIN prices had stabilized around 45 cents/RIN for D4 and D6 credits this week and are already trading a penny lower following this report.

Delek’s Big Spring refinery reported maintenance on an FCC unit that would require 3 days of work. That facility, along with several others across TX, have had numerous issues ever since the deep freeze events in 2021 and 2024 did widespread damage. Meanwhile, overnight storms across the Midwest caused at least one terminal to be knocked offline in the St. Louis area, but so far no refinery upsets have been reported.

Meanwhile, in Russia: Refiners are apparently installing anti-drone nets to protect their facilities since apparently their sling shots stopped working.

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

Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkThursday, Apr 18 2024

The Sell-Off Continues In Energy Markets, RBOB Gasoline Futures Are Now Down Nearly 13 Cents In The Past Two Days

The sell-off continues in energy markets. RBOB gasoline futures are now down nearly 13 cents in the past two days, and have fallen 16 cents from a week ago, leading to questions about whether or not we’ve seen the seasonal peak in gasoline prices. ULSD futures are also coming under heavy selling pressure, dropping 15 cents so far this week and are trading at their lowest level since January 3rd.

The drop on the weekly chart certainly takes away the upside momentum for gasoline that still favored a run at the $3 mark just a few days ago, but the longer term up-trend that helped propel a 90-cent increase since mid-December is still intact as long as prices stay above the $2.60 mark for the next week. If diesel prices break below $2.50 there’s a strong possibility that we see another 30 cent price drop in the next couple of weeks.

An unwind of long positions after Iran’s attack on Israel was swatted out of the sky without further escalation (so far anyway) and reports that Russia is resuming refinery runs, both seeming to be contributing factors to the sharp pullback in prices.

Along with the uncertainty about where the next attacks may or may not occur, and if they will have any meaningful impact on supply, come no shortage of rumors about potential SPR releases or how OPEC might respond to the crisis. The only thing that’s certain at this point, is that there’s much more spare capacity for both oil production and refining now than there was 2 years ago, which seems to be helping keep a lid on prices despite so much tension.

In addition, for those that remember the chaos in oil markets 50 years ago sparked by similar events in and around Israel, read this note from the NY Times on why things are different this time around.

The DOE’s weekly status report was largely ignored in the midst of the big sell-off Wednesday, with few noteworthy items in the report.

Diesel demand did see a strong recovery from last week’s throwaway figure that proves the vulnerability of the weekly estimates, particularly the week after a holiday, but that did nothing to slow the sell-off in ULSD futures.

Perhaps the biggest next of the week was that the agency made its seasonal changes to nameplate refining capacity as facilities emerged from their spring maintenance.

PADD 2 saw an increase of 36mb/day, and PADD 3 increased by 72mb/day, both of which set new records for regional capacity. PADD 5 meanwhile continued its slow-motion decline, losing another 30mb/day of capacity as California’s war of attrition against the industry continues. It’s worth noting that given the glacial pace of EIA reporting on the topic, we’re unlikely to see the impact of Rodeo’s conversion in the official numbers until next year.

Speaking of which, if you believe the PADD 5 diesel chart below that suggests the region is running out of the fuel, when in fact there’s an excess in most local markets, you haven’t been paying attention. Gasoline inventories on the West Coast however do appear consistent with reality as less refining output and a lack of resupply options both continue to create headaches for suppliers.

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