Petroleum Prices Move Higher Following Inventory Declines

Market TalkWednesday, Sep 22 2021
Pivotal Week For Price Action

Petroleum prices are on the move higher again following more inventory declines. Diesel prices continue to hover near 3 year highs as we approach peak demand season for distillates, while gasoline prices are lagging behind as the fall RVP transition is almost behind us and the driving season comes to an end. 

The API reported a large draw of 6.1 million barrels for crude oil inventories last week, while distillates declined by 2.7 million barrels and gasoline decreased by 432,000 barrels. The DOE’s version of the inventory report is due out at its normal time this morning, and the lingering impacts from Hurricane Ida are still expected to play a big role in those numbers. 

Shell announced that damage from Ida will take until early 2022 to fix, and damage to both offshore wells and pipelines is likely to keep more than 200,000 barrels/day of oil production offline through the end of the year. Put it another way, the damage to Shell’s facilities will reduce oil inventories by 1.5 million barrels every week for the next 3.5 months unless an alternate source can replace those barrels. 

Meanwhile, the company’s Norco refinery is still closed due to storm damage and it’s unclear how long those repairs may take. It’s a similar story for the P66 refinery in Belle Chasse LA, that is up for sale, and may need more than 6 months to make repairs after the facility flooded.

Those racing to restore operations after Ida can breathe a little easier this morning as Peter & Rose appear to be non-issues, while the storm that will probably be named Sam later this week has a good chance of following those two storms out towards the open sea and not threatening the US coast line. There are still low odds that storm could get into the Gulf of Mexico so we’ll need to keep an eye on it for a while longer.

RIN prices continued their downward slide Tuesday, with both D4 and D6 values reaching fresh 7 month lows. Still no word on when the EPA will actually announce the blending targets for 2021 (which were due almost a year ago) or for 2022.  The EPA did announce Friday that it would be auditing RIN transactions to make sure that fraudulent RINs weren’t still making it through their system. 

The EIA this morning reported that energy exports reduced the US trade deficit for the first time ever in 2020, proving once again the expanding role of Gulf Coast refiners in supplying the world’s demand for both fuel, plastics, and other petroleum-based products.

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Market Update 9.22.21

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Market TalkThursday, Mar 30 2023

Refined Products Are Moving Lower For A 2nd Day After Coming Under Heavy Selling Pressure In Wednesday’s Session

Refined products are moving lower for a 2nd day after coming under heavy selling pressure in Wednesday’s session. Rapidly increasing refinery runs and sluggish diesel demand both seemed to weigh heavily on product prices, while crude oil is still benefitting from the disruption of exports from Iraq. Prices remain range-bound, so expect more choppy back and forth action in the weeks ahead.

US oil inventories saw a large decline last week, despite another 13-million barrels of oil being found in the weekly adjustment figure, as imports dropped to a 2-year low, and refinery runs cranked up in most regions as many facilities return from spring maintenance.

The refining utilization percentage jumped to its highest level of the year but remains overstated since the new 250,000 barrels/day of output from Exxon’s Beaumont facility still isn’t being counted in the official capacity figures. If you’re shocked that the government report could have such a glaring omission, then you haven’t been paying attention to the Crude Adjustment figure this year, and the artificially inflated petroleum demand estimates that have come with it.

Speaking of which, we’re now just a couple of months away from WTI Midland crude oil being included in the Dated Brent index, and given the uncertainty in the US over what should be classified as oil vs condensate, expect some confusion once those barrels start being included in the international benchmark as well.  

Diesel demand continues to hover near the lowest levels we’ve seen for the first quarter in the past 20+ years, dropping sharply again last week after 2 straight weeks of increases had some markets hoping that the worst was behind us. Now that we’re moving out of the heating season, we’ll soon get more clarity on how on road and industrial demand is holding up on its own in the weekly figures that have been heavily influenced by the winter that wasn’t across large parts of the country.

Speaking of which, the EIA offered another mea culpa of sorts Wednesday by comparing its October Winter Fuels outlook to the current reality, which shows a huge reduction in heating demand vs expectations just 6-months ago.  

It’s not just domestic consumption of diesel that’s under pressure, exports have fallen below their 5-year average as buyers in South America are buying more Russian barrels, and European nations are getting more from new facilities in the Middle East.

Take a look at the spike in PADD 5 gasoline imports last week to get a feel for how the region may soon be forced to adjust to rapidly increasing refining capacity in Asia, while domestic facilities come under pressure

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
Market TalkWednesday, Mar 29 2023

Crude Oil Prices Are Trying To Lead Another Rally In Energy Futures This Morning

Crude oil prices are trying to lead another rally in energy futures this morning, while ULSD prices are resisting the pull higher. Stocks are pointed higher in the early going as no news is seen as good news in the banking crisis.

WTI prices have rallied by $10/barrel in the past 7 trading days, even with a $5 pullback last Thursday and Friday. The recovery puts WTI back in the top half of its March trading range but there’s still another $7 to go before the highs of the month are threatened. 

Yesterday’s API report seems to be aiding the continued strength in crude, with a 6 million barrel inventory decline estimated by the industry group last week. That report also showed a decline of 5.9 million barrels of gasoline which is consistent with the spring pattern of drawdowns as we move through the RVP transition, while distillates saw a build of 550k barrels. The DOE’s weekly report is due out at its normal time this morning. 

Diesel prices seems to be reacting both to the small build in inventories – which is yet another data point of the weak demand so far this year for distillates – and on the back of crumbling natural gas prices that settled at their lowest levels in 2.5 years yesterday and fell below $2/million BTU this morning. 

While diesel futures are soft, rack markets across the Southwestern US remain unusually tight, with spreads vs spot markets approaching $1/gallon in several cases as local refiners go through maintenance and pipeline capacity for resupply remains limited. The tightest supply in the region however remains the Phoenix CBG boutique gasoline grade which is going for $1.20/gallon over spots as several of the few refineries that can make that product are having to perform maintenance at the same time. 

French refinery strikes continue for a 4th week and are estimated to be keeping close to 1 million barrels/day of fuel production offline, which is roughly 90% of French capacity and almost 1% of total global capacity. That disruption is having numerous ripple effects on crude oil markets in the Atlantic basin, while the impact on refined product supplies and prices remains much more contained than it was when this happened just 5 months ago.

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

Pivotal Week For Price Action