Pivotal Price Action Over The Next Week

Market TalkFriday, May 21 2021
Pivotal Week For Price Action

After two days of heavy selling, energy prices are trying to bounce to start Friday’s session. A break in the risk-off selling seems to be at hand as U.S. equity futures are also pointing higher this morning after a rough week. The price action over the next week looks like it could be pivotal long term as refined product futures are testing the bullish trend lines on their weekly charts, and a break lower will make today’s rally look like a dead cat bounce with another 20 cents of downside to come, while a hold above current levels leaves the door open to testing new highs for the year in June.

More reports that Iran was close to an agreement to lift sanctions (which IF true could bring another 500,000-2 million barrels/day of oil back onto the world market within the year) earned some of the credit for the latest wave of selling Thursday. That announcement was not confirmed by U.S. officials however, and coincidentally came around the same time that a ceasefire in Gaza was announced, which so far has put a stop to the rockets Iran helped build from being fired into Israel.

Hurricane season doesn’t officially start for another week, but already there are two potential storm systems being tracked. The first near Bermuda (which would be named Ana) is unlikely to threaten the U.S., but the second in the Gulf of Mexico could briefly reach tropical storm strength and bring more heavy rain and wind to the Gulf Coast that’s been battered by storms all week, causing several refinery units to be knocked offline. 

NOAA is predicting another above-average year for storm activity in the Atlantic basin, with 13-20 named storms, 3-5 of which could be major hurricanes. Given the recent increase in storm activity, the agency is also increasing the “average” number of storms in a year from 12 to 14. That’s not as many as the record setting season we saw last year, but of course it only takes one to cause a major supply disruption since half of the country’s refining capacity sits on the gulf coast, and the region is more vulnerable now due to the saturation that’s occurred this week.

RIN prices joined the selloff in fuel and grain prices Thursday, with reports that the EPA was planning to hold renewable obligations for 2021 and 2022 unchanged due to the COVID-inspired drop in total fuel demand adding to the negative sentiment. As the chart below shows however, the nickel drop in prices this week barely registers on the chart after a 60 cent rally in the past month, and buyers still seem eager to step in whenever there’s a dip.

Who is running the show? On the same day the president made an executive order instructing government agencies to review climate change impacts, a partisan feud between FERC commissioners is leaving pipeline project approvals in the lurch. The FERC situation is eerily similar to the strange reaction by the FTC commissioner last week, when they tried to claim the Speedway sale might be illegal, after it had already gone through.    

A new bill proposed in congress Thursday would create a blenders tax credit of $1.50-$2/gallon for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). The bill is widely supported by the industry, with over 60 organizations showing support for the bill. One interesting note on the bill is that it specifically excludes fuels made from palm fatty acids, which have become a highly controversial “renewable” fuel since they arguably do more harm to the environment than traditional fuels, which is an argument the ethanol lobby will not enjoy if it spreads to other programs as well.

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

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Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkFriday, May 17 2024

The Recovery Rally In Energy Markets Continues For A 3rd Day

The recovery rally in energy markets continues for a 3rd day with refined product futures both up more than a dime off of the multi-month lows we saw Wednesday morning. The DJIA broke 40,000 for the first time ever Thursday, and while it pulled back yesterday, US equity futures are suggesting the market will open north of that mark this morning, adding to the sends of optimism in the market.

Despite the bounce in the back half of the week, the weekly charts for both RBOB and ULSD are still painting a bearish outlook with a lower high and lower low set this week unless the early rally this morning can pick up steam in the afternoon. It does seem like the cycle of liquidation from hedge funds has ended however, so it would appear to be less likely that we’ll see another test of technical support near term after this bounce.

Ukraine hit another Russian refinery with a drone strike overnight, sparking a fire at Rosneft’s 240mb/day Tuapse facility on the black sea. That plant was one of the first to be struck by Ukrainian drones back in January and had just completed repairs from that strike in April. The attack was just one part of the largest drone attack to date on Russian energy infrastructure overnight, with more than 100 drones targeting power plants, fuel terminals and two different ports on the Black Sea. I guess that means Ukraine continues to politely ignore the White House request to stop blowing up energy infrastructure in Russia.

Elsewhere in the world where lots of things are being blown up: Several reports of a drone attack in Israel’s largest refining complex (just under 200kbd) made the rounds Thursday, although it remains unclear how much of that is propaganda by the attackers and if any impact was made on production.

The LA market had 2 different refinery upsets Thursday. Marathon reported an upset at the Carson section of its Los Angeles refinery in the morning (the Carson facility was combined with the Wilmington refinery in 2019 and now reports as a single unit to the state, but separately to the AQMD) and Chevron noted a “planned” flaring event Thursday afternoon. Diesel basis values in the region jumped 6 cents during the day. Chicago diesel basis also staged a recovery rally after differentials dropped past a 30 cent discount to futures earlier in the week, pushing wholesale values briefly below $2.10/gallon.

So far there haven’t been any reports of refinery disruptions from the severe weather than swept across the Houston area Thursday. Valero did report a weather-related upset at its Mckee refinery in the TX panhandle, although it appears they avoided having to take any units offline due to that event.

The Panama Canal Authority announced it was increasing its daily ship transit level to 31 from 24 as water levels in the region have recovered following more than a year of restrictions. That’s still lower than the 39 ships/day rate at the peak in 2021, but far better than the low of 18 ships per day that choked transit last year.

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

Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkThursday, May 16 2024

Energy Prices Found A Temporary Floor After Hitting New Multi-Month Lows Wednesday

Energy prices found a temporary floor after hitting new multi-month lows Wednesday morning as a rally to record highs in US equity markets and a modestly bullish DOE report both seemed to encourage buyers to step back into the ring.

RBOB and ULSD futures both bounced more than 6 cents off of their morning lows, following a CPI report that eased inflation fears and boosted hopes for the stock market’s obsession of the FED cutting interest rates. Even though the correlation between energy prices and equities and currencies has been weak lately, the spillover effect on the bidding was clear from the timing of the moves Wednesday.

The DOE’s weekly report seemed to add to the optimism seen in equity markets as healthy increases in the government’s demand estimates kept product inventories from building despite increased refinery runs.

PADD 3 diesel stocks dropped after large increases in each of the past 3 weeks pushed inventories from the low end of their seasonal range to average levels. PADD 2 inventories remain well above average which helps explain the slump in mid-continent basis values over the past week. Diesel demand showed a nice recovery on the week and would actually be above the 5 year average if the 5% or so of US consumption that’s transitioned to RD was included in these figures.

Gasoline inventories are following typical seasonal patterns except on the West Coast where a surge in imports helped inventories recover for a 3rd straight week following April’s big basis rally.

Refiners for the most part are also following the seasonal script, ramping up output as we approach the peak driving demand season which unofficially kicks off in 10 days. PADD 2 refiners didn’t seem to be learning any lessons from last year’s basis collapse and rapidly increased run rates last week, which is another contributor to the weakness in midwestern cash markets. One difference this year for PADD 2 refiners is the new Transmountain pipeline system has eroded some of their buying advantage for Canadian crude grades, although those spreads so far haven’t shrunk as much as some had feared.

Meanwhile, wildfires are threatening Canada’s largest oil sands hub Ft. McMurray Alberta, and more than 6,000 people have been forced to evacuate the area. So far no production disruptions have been reported, but you may recall that fires in this region shut in more than 1 million barrels/day of production in 2016, which helped oil prices recover from their slump below $30/barrel.

California’s Air Resources Board announced it was indefinitely delaying its latest California Carbon Allowance (CCA) auction – in the middle of the auction - due to technical difficulties, with no word yet from the agency when bidders’ security payments will be returned, which is pretty much a nice microcosm for the entire Cap & Trade program those credits enable.

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