Energy Markets On The Brink Of Technical Breakdown

Market TalkThursday, Jul 8 2021
End To A Choppy Week For Energy Prices

Another big reversal from a morning rally Wednesday has left energy markets on the brink of a technical breakdown that could mean dramatically lower prices in the coming weeks, but so far are managing to cling to support and not break the bullish trend-lines. The lack of an OPEC deal continues to roil the energy markets, while global equity markets are selling off a day after US indices reached new record highs, which is being blamed on concerns about the latest COVID outbreaks. 

RBOB gasoline futures have a bullish trend line just under the $2.18 mark, and hit a low of $2.1775 before bouncing back to positive territory north of $2.21 this morning. That makes the trend line look pivotal as a break down should have prices testing the $2 mark later in the month, while a hold here may encourage buyers to step back in. It’s not just refined products that are teetering on the edge of a technical breakdown. Ethanol prices are threatening a drop below $2.25, which looks like a technical trap door that could lead to prices quickly falling below $2 should support break. RINs are also coming under heavy selling pressure, but remain 20 cents above where they bottomed out in June.  

The White House is also weighing in on the OPEC non-agreement, as the administration takes heat for the rapid increase in fuel prices. That pressure may trickle down to the EPA and how they handle the overdue RFS volume obligations, which may help explain some of the selling in RINs after they rallied to end last week when a court vacated the ruling to allow E15 in the summer time.

The EIA’s monthly short term energy outlook continued to forecast that global petroleum demand would climb back to pre-pandemic levels by next year, but suggests that US Gasoline demand will not thanks to a combination of greater fuel efficiency and work from home policies. The report also highlighted the growth in US gas liquid production and trade, led by steadily climbing propane exports. The report highlighted the continued slow but steady growth in renewable fuel and electricity options, but also highlighted that coal usage will increase after many years of decline thanks in large part to rising natural gas prices. 

The EIA’s weekly report was delayed by the holiday and is due out at 10 a.m. central. The API report was also delayed a day, and continued the streak of large crude oil inventory declines (7.9 million barrels last week) while refined products build (2.7 million barrels for gasoline and 1.1 for diesel). California apparently doesn’t celebrate independence day, releasing its weekly data on schedule, showing a build in gasoline production, while distillate output fell, thanks to southern California refiners reaching a 3 month low.

Today’s interesting read: how long does it take for an EV to become cleaner than gasoline-fueled cars?

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

Market Update (01A) 7.8.21

News & Views

View All
Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkFriday, Dec 9 2022

Energy Futures Are Seeing Modest Gains To Start Friday’s Session

Energy futures are seeing modest gains to start Friday’s session, limping towards the finish line of a week that’s pushed prices to their lowest levels of the year, and cut 20-30 cents off of refined products. 

WTI futures have had a fairly muted reaction to news that the Keystone pipeline was forced to shut after more than ½ million gallons reportedly spilled into a Kansas creek this week. A timeline for restart is still unclear, but so far the price action suggests refiners aren’t panicking about where they’ll find replacement barrels, and those north of the spill may be rewarded with discounted barrels that now find themselves stranded, such as Western Canadian Select which is now trading down to $50/barrel.  

If RBOB can finish in the green today, it would mark the first trading day so far in December where the gasoline contract didn’t end lower, after 6 straight losing sessions. Cash markets are also looking weak, as the spread between gasoline prices in New York and the Gulf Coast dropped to its lowest level since early October this week, putting downward pressure on the price to lease space on Colonial’s Line 1. With refiners running full out to capture huge diesel margins, gasoline is becoming an unwelcome byproduct in many markets, and could become oversupplied in some regions in the near future, which could force some plants to reduce run rates. 

Distillate prices are seeing a similar convergence with the spread between Gulf and East coasts now less than 30 cents/gallon, which is more than $1/gallon lower than it was a month ago. Softer demand for both products due to the seasonal slowdown in gasoline and unseasonably warm weather limiting Heating Oil consumption are both getting credit for these cash markets suddenly returning to something more closely resembling what we’re used to seeing. 

Bad news is good news for stock markets as any negative data points may give the FED reason to slow their interest rate hikes.  Yesterday we saw stocks rally after an increase in jobless claims in the US. Today we’re seeing stocks give back some of yesterday’s gains after the PPI report showed inflation is remaining stubbornly high and above many forecasts, giving the FED another reason to continue with its tightening. Energy contracts continue to have a weak correlation to daily moves in equity prices, so it’s not too surprising we are seeing a small rally today even though stocks are pulling back.

Chinese refiners are racing to take advantage of liberal quotas this year and are expected to reach a record level of refined fuel exports this month.  Those supplies have provided a much needed supplement for a world short on distillates, but there are many questions and few answers about what they’ll look like next year.

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

Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkThursday, Dec 8 2022

Refined Product Prices Are Bouncing Moderately This Morning After Selling Off Heavily For A Fifth Consecutive Trading Session Yesterday

Refined product prices are bouncing moderately this morning after selling off heavily for a fifth consecutive trading session yesterday. Heating oil futures have dropped over 50 cents per gallon since the beginning of the month as traders reconcile rebounding national distillate inventories, a warmer-than-expected European winter, dismal Chinese demand outlook, and the execution of the ban on Russian oil exports. Gasoline futures have dropped just over 25 cents so far in December while the West Texas Intermediate crude oil contract has fallen just $5 per barrel since last week.

The Department of Energy reported a 5.2 million barrel draw in crude oil inventories last week, marking the fourth consecutive week of stockpile drawdowns. On the flip side, national gasoline and diesel stocks likewise grew for the fourth week in a row, which makes sense given refineries are running near their 5-year seasonal high. Total refined product demand continued to sink, as typical of this time of year before everyone jumps in their cars to drive to grandma’s for Christmas.  

Oil futures have fallen below the $80 mark this week and have now given up all gains seen since Russia invaded Ukraine. While China’s relaxation of their pandemic policy should provide some upward pressure on oil prices, in theory, it seems most aren’t convinced the lack of restrictions will translate to increased petroleum demand.

Premiums to ship gasoline and diesel on the Colonial Pipeline (the main US’s petroleum artery going from Houston to New York) have dropped significantly over the past few days. Shippers can now move gasoline up the Eastern seaboard for “only” 9 cents above the pipeline’s tariff, which is the lowest its been since October. Moving diesel to the Northeast will run you 7 cents over costs.

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

Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkWednesday, Dec 7 2022

The Downward Price Action Seen In Monday’s Trading Session Continued Into Tuesday

The downward price action seen in Monday’s trading session continued into Tuesday and energy futures charts are poised to test some significant resistance levels. Most notably, the prompt month ULSD futures contract is set to test its 100-week moving average at the ~$2.80 level, beyond which the path is open for prices to fall down to the $2.20s.

WTI crude oil futures face a tough test these next couple months as it bears down on its 200-month moving average which, if broken, could lead prices down to the $65 range. The energy complex is bouncing this morning, albeit moderately, on the news that China is abandoning its COVID testing and quarantine protocols. The mild upward price action suggests traders are hesitant to believe that will translate to a return of energy demand.

The Energy Information Administration published its monthly Short Term Energy Outlook yesterday, highlighting its higher-than-expected global oil inventory level estimate for 2023. The EIA also noted that the execution of the ban on Russian seaborne petroleum products by the European Union has rendered the future of distillate remarkedly hazy. Price direction for diesel’s home-heating counterpart seems a little easier to forecast: moderately higher prices are expected through January as winter sets in and demand ramps up.

The American Petroleum Institute reported a sizeable 6.4 million barrel draw in US crude oil inventories last week, along with builds in refined product stocks of 5.9 million barrels and 3.6 million barrels of gasoline and diesel, respectively. The official report published by the Department of Energy is due to come out at its regular time this morning (9:30am CST) and its confirmation or contradiction of the API’s estimate will likely determine the day’s trading sentiment.

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