Energy Markets Start The Week Conflicted

Market TalkMonday, Sep 23 2019
Quiet Start To End A Wild Week

Energy markets are having a hard time making up their mind to start the week as overnight gains of $1 for crude and 2-3 cents for refined products turned to early morning losses across the board. Middle-East supply tensions and global demand fears continue to be the leading culprits in the daily tug-of-war on prices, and the charts are offering little in the way of clarify as to what might come next. The EIA published a note this morning highlighting the impacts this event are having on global prices.

There are conflicting reports on how long it will take to bring that damaged Saudi oil infrastructure back online – Kingdom officials continue to insist the repairs will be done in weeks, while outsiders suggest it may take much longer - leaving market participants to guess what the real impact will be to global supply.

Iran has reportedly released the British oil tanker it seized back in July, which the market is taking as a sign of easing tensions ahead of UN meetings this week. The British Prime Minister meanwhile has joined several other nations placing blame on Iran for the attacks on Saudi oil assets last weekend, just in case anyone was worried that peace might break out.

TS Karen formed over the weekend and will head north over Puerto Rico this week. After that there’s plenty of uncertainty, but a chance that the storm could turn west and head towards Florida or other parts of the South Eastern US coast next week. Tropical Depression 13 also formed over the weekend and will need to be monitored as it begins its long trek across the Atlantic.

Although trading volumes hit all-time highs in several energy futures contracts during Monday’s huge price spike, money managers made little change in their overall net positions, and a slight decline in Brent’s net length suggest some speculators saw this as an opportune time to take some profits. Swap Dealers saw modest declines in their positions during the week, suggesting that industry participants used the rally as an opportunity to add to their forward hedge positions.

Baker Hughes reported a drop of 14 oil rigs operating in the US last week, bringing the total count to a fresh 2 year low. If prices can hang onto the gains set last week, it’s possible we could see the rig count bottom out in this current area, although those decisions will be made with a much longer time horizon – and take longer to implement – so don’t expect an immediate change.

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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.

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

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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.

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

Pivotal Week For Price Action