Petroleum Complex Selling Off

Market TalkMonday, Feb 4 2019
Petroleum Complex Selling Off

Most of the petroleum complex is selling off Monday morning, reversing course after a strong Friday finish and overnight gains had pushed prices to their highs of the year so far and set the stage for a big move higher. It’s not clear what’s driving the reversal sell-off this morning, but it could simply be that fears over sanctions and a rash of refinery problems had pushed prices too high too fast.

After a week filled with numerous refinery issues – most due to the extreme cold temperatures – a pair of refinery fires Sunday (one in Toledo OH and the other in Delaware City DE, both happen to be PBF plants) gave gasoline prices more reason to continue their run.

March RBOB futures spiked nearly a nickel when trading started Sunday night, marking an 11 cent increase since Friday morning, but have since given back all of their overnight gains. It’s always a challenge determining what type of a market impact unplanned refinery issues will have, but based on the price reaction so far, it doesn’t seem like either of the weekend fires will create long-term disruptions.

There is still a great deal of consternation about Citgo’s outlook in the short & long term. The Treasury issued notes on Friday clarifying the sanction rules for US-based bondholders of Citgo’s debt, and for purchasers of PDVSA crude (of which Citgo is one of the largest). Long story short, US companies can continue buying Venezuelan crude for 3 more months, as long as the funds go into blocked accounts.

Citgo meanwhile is denying claims that it’s considering bankruptcy in order to continue operating in the US, and by some accounts may soon find itself flush with cash since the funds it generates in the US are not able to be repatriated to Venezuela.

The CFTC announced last week that it would publish 2 Commitments of Traders reports each week to catch up from the time missed during the government shutdown. So, last Friday’s COT report showed data from the week of Christmas and we won’t get current reports for another few weeks. The ICE COT reports continue to be published however, and speculators continue to return to the oil market with net length held by money managers increasing for a 4th straight week.

Baker Hughes reported a decline of 15 oil rigs last week, bringing the US total rig count to its lowest level since last May. Texas and Oklahoma accounted for about half of the decline nationwide.

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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