Energy Futures Are Trying For A 2nd Day Of Gains After A Roller-Coaster Of A Trading Session Monday Ended On A Strong Note

Market TalkTuesday, Feb 6 2024
Pivotal Week For Price Action

Energy futures are trying for a 2nd day of gains after a roller-coaster of a trading session Monday ended on a strong note, shrugging off a surge in the US dollar and weaker equity markets. 

Reports Monday that US troops in Syria had come under attack again with a drone that killed 6 allied Kurdish soldiers, seemed to be contributing to the rally as it is now clear that the retaliation efforts are far from over, and any hopes of a quick resolution to the violence are fleeting. Israel also announced a new ground offensive near the border with Egypt, suggesting negotiations for a cease fire weren’t going anywhere this week.

The first week in February has seen a strong recovery in crack spreads, with values on the Gulf Coast pushing to their highest level in 6 months as a busy spring maintenance season kicks off, and some facilities are still repairing units after the January freeze, while Mid-Con values are recovering after reaching their lowest values since 2020. 

Basis values in the Mid-continent cooled Monday after a big rally to start February as traders continue to wait on news from BP Whiting’s unplanned shutdown due to a power outage last week.  More news is expected on restart efforts and the expected duration later this afternoon.

A state of emergency was declared in 8 California counties as 3 days of heavy rains caused flooding and mudslides. Marathon reported unplanned flaring at its LA-area Wilmington refinery Monday morning, although it’s unclear if that upset was weather related. So far there have not been reports of terminals or pipelines being knocked offline by the heavy rains, so the supply impacts appear to be minimal at this point, although demand is no doubt slowing dramatically until the roads dry out.

The controversy surrounding 2 Bay-Area refinery conversions isn’t really news at this point, but one point in a recent news article is noteworthy as it highlights the physical challenges with Hydrogen refiners face when making RD and SAF. Flaring immediately ramped up following that [Marathon Martinez] refinery's conversion, largely tied to the more intensive use of hydrogen needed to process renewable diesel.

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Market Talk Update 2.06.2024

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Market TalkFriday, Jul 19 2024

Summertime-Friday-Apathy Trade Influencing Energy Markets

Energy markets are treading water to start the day as the Summertime-Friday-Apathy trade seems to be influencing markets around the world in the early going. RBOB futures are trying for a 3rd straight day of gains to wipe out the losses we saw to start the week, while ULSD futures continue to look like the weak link, trading lower for a 2nd day and down nearly 3 cents for the week.

Bad to worse: Exxon’s Joliet refinery remains offline with reports that repairs may take through the end of the month. On top of that long delay in restoring power to the facility, ENT reported this morning that the facility has leaked hydrogen fluoride acid gas, which is a dangerous and controversial chemical used in alkylation units. Chicago basis values continue to rally because of the extended downtime, with RBOB differentials approaching a 50-cent premium to futures, which sets wholesale prices just below the $3 mark, while ULSD has gone from the weakest in the country a month ago to the strongest today. In a sign of how soft the diesel market is over most of the US, however, the premium commanded in a distressed market is still only 2 cents above prompt futures.

The 135mb Calcasieu Refinery near Lake Charles LA has been taken offline this morning after a nearby power substation went out, and early reports suggest repairs will take about a week. There is no word yet if that power substation issue has any impacts on the nearby Citgo Lake Charles or P66 Westlake refineries.

Two tanker ships collided and caught fire off the coast of Singapore this morning. One ship was a VLCC which is the largest tanker in the world capable of carrying around 2 million barrels. The other was a smaller ship carrying “only” 300,000 barrels (roughly 12 million gallons) of naphtha. The area is known for vessels in the “dark fleet” swapping products offshore to avoid sanctions, so a collision isn’t too surprising as the vessels regularly come alongside one another, and this shouldn’t disrupt other ships from transiting the area.

That’s (not) a surprise: European auditors have determined the bloc’s green hydrogen goals are unattainable despite billions of dollars of investment, and are based on “political will” rather than analysis. Also (not) surprising, the ambitious plans to build a “next-gen” hydrogen-powered refinery near Tulsa have been delayed.

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Market TalkThursday, Jul 18 2024

Refined Products Stanch Bleeding Despite Inventory Builds And Demand Slump

Refined products are trading slightly lower to start Thursday after they stopped the bleeding in Wednesday’s session, bouncing more than 2 cents on the day for both RBOB and ULSD, despite healthy inventory builds reported by the DOE along with a large slump in gasoline demand.

Refinery runs are still above average across the board but were pulled in PADD 3 due to the short-term impacts of Beryl. The Gulf Coast region is still outpacing the previous two years and sitting at the top end of its 5-year range as refiners in the region play an interesting game of chicken with margins, betting that someone else’s facility will end up being forced to cut rates before theirs.

Speaking of which, Exxon Joliet was reportedly still offline for a 3rd straight day following weekend thunderstorms that disrupted power to the area. Chicago RBOB basis jumped by another dime during Wednesday’s session as a result of that downtime. Still, that move is fairly pedestrian (so far) in comparison to some of the wild swings we’ve come to expect from the Windy City. IIR via Reuters reports that the facility will be offline for a week.

LA CARBOB differentials are moving in the opposite direction meanwhile as some unlucky seller(s) appear to be stuck long and wrong as gasoline stocks in PADD 5 reach their highest level since February, and held above the 5-year seasonal range for a 4th consecutive week. The 30-cent discount to August RBOB marks the biggest discount to futures since 2022.

The EIA Wednesday also highlighted its forecast for rapid growth in “Other” biofuels production like SAF and Renewable Naptha and Propane, as those producers capable of making SAF instead of RD can add an additional $.75/gallon of federal credits when the Clean Fuels Producer’s Credit takes hold next year. The agency doesn’t break out the products between the various “Other” renewable fuels, but the total projected output of 50 mb/day would amount to roughly 2% of total Jet Fuel production if it was all turned to SAF, which of course it won’t as the other products come along for the ride similar to traditional refining processes.

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Pivotal Week For Price Action