March Madness Winds Down With A Whimper

Market TalkWednesday, Mar 31 2021
Traders Torn As Opposing Trend Lines Converge

March madness is winding down with a whimper after several volatile weeks of trading. Energy prices are not doing much this morning as traders either stayed up too late watching basketball the past two nights, or are just waiting to see what the OPEC & friends monitoring committee meeting tomorrow brings. A reduction in the cartel’s demand forecast has many in the market believing they’ll roll over their output cuts, but the Saudi’s have been good at not following the script the past several months.

It’s the last trading day for the April RBOB and ULSD contracts so watch the May contracts (RBK & HOK) for price direction today. Futures and spot markets will be completely closed for Good Friday so rack prices should carry through from Thursday night’s posting all the way until Monday, unlike some recent partial holidays that saw big moves in futures and suppliers changing rack prices. 

RIN prices continued to sell off heavily this week, assisted by another big mover lower in soybean oil prices, after they surged to eight year highs earlier in March. Here are a few interesting reads on that subject:

  1. Why Bean Oil prices will move higher

  2. And here’s why they should keep falling 

  3. Soybeans might be in your tires, in addition to your fuel tank (not to mention on your plate)

Another potential influencer of the recent RIN rollercoaster? Big swings in ethanol production. An EIA note this morning shows that it wasn’t just oil refiners that suffered from February’s polar plunge. The report shows a dramatic drop in ethanol production due to surging natural gas prices followed by a rapid increase in output as producers took advantage of surging prices for both ethanol and their RINs.

Speaking of ethanol production, a facility in California that uses cow waste to produce ethanol received approval from the ARB of a new fuel pathway with a carbon intensity (CI) score of negative 426, compared to traditional ethanol with a score of positive 66. What does that mean? The new pathway has a negative carbon footprint, and thus generates .06 LCFS credits per gallon, which at current prices around $187 per MT, the producers can generate nearly $12/gallon worth of credits under California’s LCFS program.  

There have been numerous stories in the past year about China’s growing refinery output, which has now outpaced the U.S. A Bloomberg note this morning shows how those new plants are hammering margins and squeezing out other Asian producers. On the other hand, it does not appear that China has a program paying $12/gallon for fuel made from manure. 

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

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Market TalkWednesday, Nov 29 2023

The API Reported Gasoline Inventories Dropped By 898,000 Barrels Last Week

Gasoline and oil prices are attempting to rally for a 2nd straight day, a day ahead of the delayed OPEC meeting, while diesel prices are slipping back into the red following Tuesday’s strong showing. 

The API reported gasoline inventories dropped by 898,000 barrels last week, crude inventories declined by 817,000 barrels while distillates saw an increase of 2.8 million barrels. Those inventory stats help explain the early increases for RBOB and WTI while ULSD is trading lower. The DOE’s weekly report is due out at its normal time this morning. 

A severe storm on the Black Sea is disrupting roughly 2% of the world’s daily oil output and is getting some credit for the bounce in futures, although early reports suggest that this will be a short-lived event. 

Chevron reported that its Richmond CA refinery was back online after a power outage Monday night. San Francisco spot diesel basis values rallied more than a dime Tuesday after a big drop on Monday following the news of that refinery being knocked offline.

Just a few days after Scotland’s only refinery announced it would close in 2025, Exxon touted its newest refinery expansion project in the UK Tuesday, with a video detailing how it was ramping up diesel production to reduce imports and possibly allow for SAF production down the road at its Fawley facility. 

Ethanol prices continue to slump this week, reaching a 2-year low despite the bounce in gasoline prices as corn values dropped to a 3-year low, and the White House appears to be delaying efforts to shift to E15 in an election year. 

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

Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkTuesday, Nov 28 2023

Values For Space On Colonial’s Main Gasoline Line Continue To Drop This Week

The petroleum complex continues to search for a price floor with relatively quiet price action this week suggesting some traders are going to wait and see what OPEC and Friends can decide on at their meeting Thursday. 

Values for space on Colonial’s main gasoline line continue to drop this week, with trades below 10 cents/gallon after reaching a high north of 18-cents earlier in the month. Softer gasoline prices in New York seems to be driving the slide as the 2 regional refiners who had been down for extended maintenance both return to service. Diesel linespace values continue to hold north of 17-cents/gallon as East Coast stocks are holding at the low end of their seasonal range while Gulf Coast inventories are holding at average levels.

Reversal coming?  Yesterday we saw basis values for San Francisco spot diesel plummet to the lowest levels of the year, but then overnight the Chevron refinery in Richmond was forced to shut several units due to a power outage which could cause those differentials to quickly find a bid if the supplier is forced to become a buyer to replace that output.

Money managers continued to reduce the net length held in crude oil contracts, with both Brent and WTI seeing long liquidation and new short positions added last week. Perhaps most notable from the weekly COT report data is that funds are continuing their counter-seasonal bets on higher gasoline prices. The net length held by large speculators for RBOB is now at its highest level since Labor Day, at a time of year when prices tend to drop due to seasonal demand weakness. 

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