How Long Until Power Comes Back On?

Market TalkThursday, Feb 18 2021
Market Talk Updates - Social Header

How long until the power comes back on? That’s the big question being asked by millions of people across the U.S. and Mexico, and a huge proportion of the energy industry as the remnants of a brutal stretch of winter weather moves East, and the thawing out process begins. In addition to the direct impact, the trickle down effects of the collapse in oil, refined products, natural gas and ethylene production are being felt around the world

The refining hubs along the Gulf Coast from Corpus Christi to New Orleans have temperatures above freezing this morning, and should stay that way for the next week, except for a few hours tonight. If that thaw allows most plants to resume operations by the weekend, the impact of this chaotic event should be short-lived. Of course, the warm up also means that more drivers are about to hit the road, while terminals and stations that have been closed for a few days may or may not be able to come back online with supply, power and/or intact pipes to meet demand. 

If you remember the panic buying in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, it’s not hard to imagine that the next few days could create a demand spike as news of the refinery shutdowns hits the mainstream just in time for people to start leaving their homes again, and could create a preventable panic phenomenon which could create supply shortages all on its own.

The Houston ship channel was able to resume limited operations after the ice blocking shipping lanes started to break up, a most unusual occurrence that may have some Texans reluctant to use the phrase “When Hell Freezes over” ever again. 

We did see some heavy selling for about an hour Wednesday morning after a WSJ report that said Saudi Arabia was going to increase its oil output now that prices had recovered. That wave of selling wiped out the early gains for crude and product futures, but was fairly short lived and the march higher picked up later in the morning.

Basis markets continue to show strength for both gasoline and diesel grades across most U.S. spot markets, but those moves are still relatively minor compared to disruptions we’ve witnessed over the past two decades, a testament to the excess capacity in the U.S. and the softer-than-normal demand environment. In addition to stronger spot prices, numerous rack markets stretching from Arizona to Maryland have switched from seeing suppliers having to offer steep discounts to move product during the winter doldrums, to enforcing strict allocations as resupply options become questionable.

The API reported large draws in oil and diesel stocks last week, while gasoline stocks had another large build. The DOE’s weekly report is due out at 10 a.m. central today, and should give some glimpse into the impact on gasoline demand caused by the winter storms that battered the East Coast two weeks ago, that now appear quaint in comparison. Don’t expect the report to move the market much as last Friday’s data doesn’t mean much after almost 1/3 of the country’s refining capacity was forced to cut back this week.

In other non-frozen refinery news this week, Calumet laid out plans to convert part of its Great Falls Montana facility to Renewable Diesel production this week in an SEC filing, joining a long list of refiners looking to jump on the BTC/RIN/LCFS and new Canadian CFS programs that combined can offer more than $4.50/gallon in subsidies for RD production. The company also closed on the sale and leaseback of its Shreveport facility in an effort to save enough cash to survive the weak margin environment that was hammering refineries before the storms hit.

Great Falls Renewable Diesel Opportunity:

We believe Great Falls, which connects western agriculture with West Coast and Canadian clean product markets, presents one of the most compelling opportunities for Renewable Diesel production in North America. We estimate the oversized hydrocracker built in 2016 can be reconfigured to process 10-12,000 BPD renewable feedstock at the lowest capital cost per barrel of any announced industry project.   Hydrocracker conversions are typically faster to market, cheaper, and less technically challenging. In addition, the planned configuration could retain 10-12,000 BPD low-cost Canadian crude processing, providing Montana customers with clean energy and our unique specialty asphalt.  Future dual train operations are currently estimated to generate $220 to $260 million of Adjusted EBITDA assuming mid-cycle market prices and existing environmental market structure (BTC, RINs, LCFS). 
Given strong investor interest in renewables, Calumet expects to utilize third party equity for this unique opportunity, without expending Calumet funds.

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

TACenergy MarketTalk 021821

News & Views

View All
Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkFriday, Apr 19 2024

Gasoline Futures Are Leading The Way Lower This Morning

It was a volatile night for markets around the world as Israel reportedly launched a direct strike against Iran. Many global markets, from equities to currencies to commodities saw big swings as traders initially braced for the worst, then reversed course rapidly once Iran indicated that it was not planning to retaliate. Refined products spiked following the initial reports, with ULSD futures up 11 cents and RBOB up 7 at their highest, only to reverse to losses this morning. Equities saw similar moves in reverse overnight as a flight to safety trade soon gave way to a sigh of relief recovery.

Gasoline futures are leading the way lower this morning, adding to the argument that we may have seen the spring peak in prices a week ago, unless some actual disruption pops up in the coming weeks. The longer term up-trend is still intact and sets a near-term target to the downside roughly 9 cents below current values. ULSD meanwhile is just a nickel away from setting new lows for the year, which would open up a technical trap door for prices to slide another 30 cents as we move towards summer.

A Reuters report this morning suggests that the EPA is ready to announce another temporary waiver of smog-prevention rules that will allow E15 sales this summer as political winds continue to prove stronger than any legitimate environmental agenda. RIN prices had stabilized around 45 cents/RIN for D4 and D6 credits this week and are already trading a penny lower following this report.

Delek’s Big Spring refinery reported maintenance on an FCC unit that would require 3 days of work. That facility, along with several others across TX, have had numerous issues ever since the deep freeze events in 2021 and 2024 did widespread damage. Meanwhile, overnight storms across the Midwest caused at least one terminal to be knocked offline in the St. Louis area, but so far no refinery upsets have been reported.

Meanwhile, in Russia: Refiners are apparently installing anti-drone nets to protect their facilities since apparently their sling shots stopped working.

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

Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkThursday, Apr 18 2024

The Sell-Off Continues In Energy Markets, RBOB Gasoline Futures Are Now Down Nearly 13 Cents In The Past Two Days

The sell-off continues in energy markets. RBOB gasoline futures are now down nearly 13 cents in the past two days, and have fallen 16 cents from a week ago, leading to questions about whether or not we’ve seen the seasonal peak in gasoline prices. ULSD futures are also coming under heavy selling pressure, dropping 15 cents so far this week and are trading at their lowest level since January 3rd.

The drop on the weekly chart certainly takes away the upside momentum for gasoline that still favored a run at the $3 mark just a few days ago, but the longer term up-trend that helped propel a 90-cent increase since mid-December is still intact as long as prices stay above the $2.60 mark for the next week. If diesel prices break below $2.50 there’s a strong possibility that we see another 30 cent price drop in the next couple of weeks.

An unwind of long positions after Iran’s attack on Israel was swatted out of the sky without further escalation (so far anyway) and reports that Russia is resuming refinery runs, both seeming to be contributing factors to the sharp pullback in prices.

Along with the uncertainty about where the next attacks may or may not occur, and if they will have any meaningful impact on supply, come no shortage of rumors about potential SPR releases or how OPEC might respond to the crisis. The only thing that’s certain at this point, is that there’s much more spare capacity for both oil production and refining now than there was 2 years ago, which seems to be helping keep a lid on prices despite so much tension.

In addition, for those that remember the chaos in oil markets 50 years ago sparked by similar events in and around Israel, read this note from the NY Times on why things are different this time around.

The DOE’s weekly status report was largely ignored in the midst of the big sell-off Wednesday, with few noteworthy items in the report.

Diesel demand did see a strong recovery from last week’s throwaway figure that proves the vulnerability of the weekly estimates, particularly the week after a holiday, but that did nothing to slow the sell-off in ULSD futures.

Perhaps the biggest next of the week was that the agency made its seasonal changes to nameplate refining capacity as facilities emerged from their spring maintenance.

PADD 2 saw an increase of 36mb/day, and PADD 3 increased by 72mb/day, both of which set new records for regional capacity. PADD 5 meanwhile continued its slow-motion decline, losing another 30mb/day of capacity as California’s war of attrition against the industry continues. It’s worth noting that given the glacial pace of EIA reporting on the topic, we’re unlikely to see the impact of Rodeo’s conversion in the official numbers until next year.

Speaking of which, if you believe the PADD 5 diesel chart below that suggests the region is running out of the fuel, when in fact there’s an excess in most local markets, you haven’t been paying attention. Gasoline inventories on the West Coast however do appear consistent with reality as less refining output and a lack of resupply options both continue to create headaches for suppliers.

Click here to download a PDF of today's TACenergy Market Talk, including all charts from the Weekly DOE Report.

Pivotal Week For Price Action