Energy Futures Rallied To End The Day

Market TalkThursday, Oct 4 2018
Energy Futures Rallied To End The Day

After a soft start to Wednesday’s session, energy futures rallied to end the day, with Brent, WTI and ULSD contracts all reaching new 3 year and 11 month highs. We’re seeing a similarly soft start to today’s trading but the sellers seem cautious as the oil market has the feel of a bullish freight train that no one wants to step out in front of. The EIA weekly report surprised many with a large build in crude oil stocks that initially sent prices lower, only to see buyers step in as it seemed those increases were driven by the volatile nature of the import/export flow for oil in the US.

Oil stocks had their largest weekly increase of the year, rising just under 8 million barrels as export dropped sharply, which accounted for 6.4 million barrels of the increase.

Refinery runs offered a bit of a surprise, with rates rising in 4 out of 5 PADDS, and showing a small net increase of 77mb/day nationwide despite the expectations for a busy fall maintenance season. As the Refinery Run charts below show, we are still on the early side of the seasonal maintenance window, so it’s likely we’ll continue to see rates drop over the next 4 weeks. Midwest (PADD 2) run rates reached their lowest level in nearly 2.5 years, while Gulf Coast (PADD 3) rates continue to impress, running nearly ½ million barrels/day more than they’ve ever done this time of year.

There’s a glut of gasoline inventory in parts of the US that’s just not going away. Total US gasoline stocks held above their 5-year seasonal range this week, with another counter-seasonal build in PADD 1 inventories largely offsetting declines in the other 4 PADDs. The excess along the East Coast may account for the relative underperformance of RBOB vs the rest of the petroleum complex over the past few weeks. The reason for the excess in gasoline inventories is easily explained by refinery output that is holding above the high end of its 5 year range, while demand is stagnating near the 5 year average.

The storm system moving through the Caribbean is still given a 30% chance of development, although forecast models suggest it’s likely it will make it into the central to eastern part of the Gulf of Mexico next week. That’s good news for the refineries along the TX Gulf Coast, but LA refiners will have to watch for a few more days.

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Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkWednesday, Jun 7 2023

Energy Prices Fluctuate: Chinese Imports Surge, Saudi Arabia Cuts Output and Buys Golf

Energy prices continue their back-and-forth trading, starting Wednesday’s session with modest gains, after a round of selling Tuesday wiped out the Saudi output cut bounce. 

A surge in China’s imports of crude oil and natural gas seem to be the catalyst for the early move higher, even though weak export activity from the world’s largest fuel buyer suggests the global economy is still struggling. 

New tactic?  Saudi Arabia’s plan to voluntarily cut oil production by another 1 million barrels/day failed to sustain a rally in oil prices to start the week, so they bought the PGA tour

The EIA’s monthly Short Term Energy Outlook raised its price forecast for oil, citing the Saudi cuts, and OPEC’s commitment to extend current production restrictions through 2024. The increase in prices comes despite reducing the forecast for US fuel consumption, as GDP growth projections continue to decline from previous estimates. 

The report included a special article on diesel consumption, and its changing relationship with economic activity that does a good job of explaining why diesel prices are $2/gallon cheaper today than they were a year ago.   

The API reported healthy builds in refined product inventories last week, with distillates up 4.5 million barrels while gasoline stocks were up 2.4 million barrels in the wake of Memorial Day. Crude inventories declined by 1.7 million barrels on the week. The DOE’s weekly report is due out at its normal time this morning. 

We’re still waiting on the EPA’s final ruling on the Renewable Fuel Standard for the next few years, which is due a week from today, but another Reuters article suggests that eRINs will not be included in this round of making up the rules.

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Pivotal Week For Price Action
Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkTuesday, Jun 6 2023

Energy Prices Retreat, Global Demand Concerns Loom

So much for that rally. Energy prices have given back all of the gains made following Saudi Arabia’s announcement that it would voluntarily withhold another 1 million barrels/day of oil production starting in July. The pullback appears to be rooted in the ongoing concerns over global demand after a soft PMI report for May while markets start to focus on what the FED will do at its FOMC meeting next week.

The lack of follow through to the upside leaves petroleum futures stuck in neutral technical territory, and since the top end of the recent trading range didn’t break, it seems likely we could see another test of the lower end of the range in the near future.  

RIN prices have dropped sharply in the past few sessions, with traders apparently not waiting on the EPA’s final RFS ruling – due in a week – to liquidate positions. D6 values dropped to their lowest levels in a year Monday, while D4 values hit a 15-month low. In unrelated news, the DOE’s attempt to turn seaweed into biofuels has run into a whale problem.  

Valero reported a process leak at its Three Rivers TX refinery that lasted a fully 24 hours.  That’s the latest in a string of upsets for south Texas refineries over the past month that have kept supplies from San Antonio, Austin and DFW tighter than normal. Citgo Corpus Christi also reported an upset over the weekend at a sulfur recovery unit. Several Corpus facilities have been reporting issues since widespread power outages knocked all of the local plants offline last month.  

Meanwhile, the Marathon Galveston Bay (FKA Texas City) refinery had another issue over the weekend as an oil movement line was found to be leaking underground but does not appear to have impacted refining operations at the facility. Gulf Coast traders don’t seem concerned by any of the latest refinery issues, with basis values holding steady to start the week.

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