Energy Markets Trying To Figure Out Potential Impacts Of A Major Hurricane

Market TalkTuesday, Oct 9 2018
Energy Markets Trying To Figure Out Potential Impacts Of  A Major Hurricane

It’s already been a volatile week of trading and it’s only Tuesday morning. Equity markets around the world are being roiled by trade concerns and rising interest rates, while energy markets are trying to figure out the potential impacts of a major hurricane and refinery fire.

After dropping nearly 2% to start the week, refined products rallied back to positive levels as news broke of an explosion and fire at Irving Oil’s 320mb/day refinery in St. John New Brunswick, Canada’s largest refinery, which is a major supplier of gasoline and diesel to the East Coast.

It’s unclear yet what impact that may have on fuel supplies and prices as it’s still unclear which units were effected, and how long they may be out of service. New York harbor basis values largely shrugged off the news since the largest units at the plant were already off-line for scheduled maintenance.

As the charts below show, New England (PADD 1A) may see the most impact from any downtime at the Irving refinery given its proximity to the refinery, relatively small size (only 7% of total PADD 1 gasoline stocks) and starting inventory levels that are within their seasonal range, albeit at the top end. PADDs 1B & 1C meanwhile are well above their previous 5 year ranges for gasoline inventories, and given their larger total capacity, which could explain the muted reaction in the NY Harbor trading hub.

While the East Coast of Canada was dealing with the shock of a major refinery issue, Western Canadian crude oil prices traded down to the $30/barrel mark for the first time since December 2016 as refinery maintenance in the US and a lack of pipeline capacity forces prices to record discounts of nearly $45/barrel to WTI and $55 less than Brent. For perspective, the last time WCS was trading at $30, WTI was at $44 and Brent was at $45, compared to $74 and $85 today.

Hurricane Michael is now a Category 2 storm, and is expected to become a Category 3 storm before making landfall along the Florida panhandle Wednesday. While several off-shore oil rigs have been evacuated as a precaution as the storm nears, its path keeps it far enough east that it should not have a lasting impact on energy supply infrastructure. The storm could have a larger impact on demand as it targets Florida, Georgia, and perhaps some areas of the Carolinas still recovering from Hurricane Florence.

The IEA continued with its series of analytical reports focusing on “blind spots” in the global energy system with a report on renewables Monday. The report estimated that renewables would account for 40% of total global energy consumption growth in the next 5 years, and while Solar capacity will see the largest increases, biofuels will remain the largest segment of renewable energy supply.

CLICK HERE for a PDF of today's charts

News & Views

View All
Pivotal Week For Price Action
Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkWednesday, Jul 17 2024

Energy Markets Are Trying To Find A Price Floor After Gasoline And Crude Oil Staged A Healthy Bounce To Minimize The Heavy Losses

Energy markets are trying to find a price floor after gasoline and crude oil staged a healthy bounce to minimize the heavy losses we saw early in Tuesday’s session. WTI is leading the move higher early Wednesday, up nearly $.90/barrel in the early going, while RBOB prices are up just under a penny.

Diesel continues to look like the weak link in the energy chain both technically and fundamentally. Tuesday the API reported a 4.9 million barrel build in diesel stocks, while gasoline inventories were only up 365,000 barrels, and crude oil stocks declined by more than 4.4 million barrels. The DOE’s weekly report is due out at its normal time this morning and it’s likely we’ll see a reduction in oil output and PADD 3 refining runs thanks to shut ins ahead of Hurricane Beryl, but otherwise the storm appears to be a relative non-issue with only 1 notable refining hiccup, that wasn’t even as bad as a midwestern Thunderstorm.

Chicago basis values rallied Tuesday after reports that Exxon had shut down the 250mb/day Joliet refinery following severe storms that knocked out power to the area Sunday. RBOB differentials surged nearly 9 cents on the day, while diesel diffs jumped more than a nickel. With 3 large refineries in close proximity, the Chicago cash market is notoriously volatile if any of those facilities has an upset. Back in May there was a one-day spike in gasoline basis of more than 50 cents/gallon after Joliet had an operating upset so don’t be surprised if there are bigger swings this week if the facility doesn’t come back online quickly.

Moving in the opposite direction, California basis values are heading the opposite direction with the transition to August scheduling pressuring CARBOB differentials in LA and San Francisco to their biggest discounts to prompt RBOB futures in more than 18 months. Gasoline imports into PADD 5 have held well above average levels over the past 2 months, which has more than offset the loss of the P66 Rodeo refinery’s output after it completed its conversion to RD production, in another sign of how growing refining capacity in China and other Asian countries may become more influential to the US. California regulators may also pat themselves on the back that their new plans to force refineries to report their gross profit monthly, in addition to the rules requiring all bulk trades in the state be reported must be driving the lower gasoline differentials, assuming they figure out what a basis differential is.

Meanwhile, California’s Carbon Allowance values have tumbled to their lowest levels in a year after a CARB presentation last week suggested the agency would be delaying long-anticipated tightening of the Cap and Trade program until 2026.

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

Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkTuesday, Jul 16 2024

The Sell-Off In Energy Markets Continues, With Refined Products Reaching Their Lowest Levels In A Month Early In Tuesday’s Session

The sell-off in energy markets continues, with refined products reaching their lowest levels in a month early in Tuesday’s session. Reports of slowing growth in China, the world’s largest oil purchaser, is getting much of the credit for the slide in prices so far this week, although that doesn’t do much to explain why refined products are outpacing the drop in crude.

ULSD futures are leading the early move lower, trading down a nickel on the day, and marking a 19 cent drop since July 4th. There’s not much in the way of technical support for ULSD, so don’t be surprised if this sell-off continues to pick up steam.

With today’s slide, RBOB futures are down 17 cents from where they were trading on July 4th, and are just a couple of cents from testing their 200-day moving average. Should that support break, it looks like there’s a good chance to test the June lows around $2.29.

Physical markets are not offering any strength to the futures market with all 6 of the major cash markets for diesel across the US trading at a discount to ULSD futures, while only 1 gasoline market is trading at a premium to RBOB futures. That combination of weakness in futures and cash markets is going to be troubling for refiners who are seeing margins reduce during what is traditionally a strong time of year.

The EIA highlighted the energy trade between the US and Mexico in a report Monday, showing that despite so many claims of energy independence from Mexican officials, the actual amount of refined fuels and natural gas bought from the US continues to increase. That’s good news for many US refiners who have become more dependent on Mexican purchases to find a home for their output.

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