Energy Prices Score Big Technical Victory

Market TalkTuesday, Nov 3 2020
Market Talk Updates - Social Header

Energy prices have scored a big technical victory so far this week, rallying more than 10% after reaching five month lows Sunday night, salvaging the sideways trading range that’s going on its sixth month. Some see this bounce as a sign of a major market bottom that will propel prices another 10-20% higher in the coming weeks, while others are shrugging it off as a dead cat bounce that just delays the inevitable drop as demand looks to be sliding as new shutdowns spread in the U.S. and Europe.

Taking some of the credit for the move today, Russia is said to be in talks domestically and with OPEC about a three month extension of production cuts, after saying for weeks they would open production back up despite the new lockdowns hitting Europe. The EIA this morning noted that OPEC’s oil revenues are expected to plummet to an 18 year low this year, as voluntary production cuts led by Saudi Arabia, combined with involuntary production cuts in Libya, Iran and Venezuela, multiplied by low prices hampered the cartel’s earnings. 

U.S. equity markets also seem to be helping energy futures find a bid, moving sharply higher for a second day as the election winds down. We’ll know this time tomorrow whether or not there will be a clear outcome, and expect a bumpy ride for both equity and energy prices if it’s not.

While the East Coast has been grabbing most of the headlines, West Coast basis values have shot higher in the past week thanks to a rash of unplanned refinery issues. CARB #2 diesel values have reached an eight month high during the rally, while CARBOB gasoline values reached a two-month high. Looking back however, you can see this latest jump in LA Spot values pales in comparison to the chaos we’ve been accustomed to in previous years, another sign of how the COVID-demand slump is acting as a price buffer when supply disruptions happen.

Consolidation continues: St. Louis-based Bunge agreed to sell its Rotterdam refinery to Neste, but will continue to lease back the facility for the next three years. Starting in 2024, Neste will control operations at the plant – which is adjacent to its current refinery and already has a pipeline connection between the facilities.

Zombie storm: Hurricane Eta is a major Category 4 storm about to release devastating storm surge and rain on central America today, and then is expected to return to the Caribbean and regain tropical storm strength over the weekend. Given the warm waters in that region, and the path, it looks like Florida could end up taking a hit next week before this storm is done.  Given everything else that’s happened this year, I wouldn’t rule it out.

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

TACenergy MarketTalk 110320

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.