Optimists Feeling Foolish

Market TalkWednesday, Apr 1 2020
Energy Prices Set All Sorts Of Records

Those that ended March with optimism are feeling foolish to start April as energy and equity markets around the world start a new month and a new quarter with another round of risk-off selling. We just lived through what is by some measures the worst month and quarter on record for some contracts as the world tried to wrap its head about a reality that no one has experienced before.

WTI is the strongest of the NYMEX petroleum contracts this morning, in spite of a 10 million barrel inventory build reported by the API. Gasoline stocks rose by more than 6 million barrels on the week according to the industry report, while distillates drew by more than 4 million barrels. The DOE’s version of the weekly stats is due out at its normal time, and could very well show the largest demand drop ever for some products, if the government’s estimates are able to keep pace with the reality on the street.

The only thing slowing builds in product inventories is the steady stream of refinery run cuts and unit closures that are now taking place at a majority of refineries around the world. Those slowdowns are unprecedented and mean crude oil will be backed up, ultimately to the well-head, meaning production will be forced to shut in due to lack of storage above ground.

While the dramatic sell-off in futures contracts has told most of the story, the pain felt by producers can be seen more clearly in cash markets, where Western Canadian crude now goes for $5/barrel, and WTI in Midland is going for $11. Numerous other physical grades are trading at larger-than-normal discounts to the already-depressed futures pricing as producers struggle to find a place to put that oil, making the predictions that we could see negative values before this is over seem more plausible than ever.

The beneficiaries of this unusual situation look to be anyone with storage capacity that can buy the distressed barrels today and leverage the super-contango forward curve for the inevitable price rally once the stay at home orders come to an end.

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

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Pivotal Week For Price Action
Pivotal Week For Price Action
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.