Race To Restart Refineries

Market TalkThursday, Feb 25 2021
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Gasoline and diesel prices have reached fresh 1+ year highs every day so far this week, although another wave of selling has pushed prices modestly lower this morning after an overnight rally. The entire energy futures complex is in an extremely overbought condition following 4 months of price increases, so a big pullback is to be expected at some point.  

The race to restart refineries and resupply large swaths of the south that are tight on products continues, but outages are rare at this point, and mostly concentrated in the West Texas region for now. Texas did approve a temporary RVP waiver statewide through March to try and speed along resupply, adding to the TXLED diesel additive waiver approved by the EPA last week. 

Yesterday’s DOE report offered a clearer picture into how dramatic the impacts of the polar plunge were on refinery runs, crude output and total demand across the country. 

The drop in PADD 3 refinery runs last week rivaled the largest disruptions in history, but even though more refineries were impacted, the total production knocked offline was less than what we saw in 2017, 2008 and 2005, and with most plants in some phase of restart, we should see a bounce back next week. PADD 2 run rates also dropped sharply on the week as numerous plants in Kansas and Oklahoma faced power and extreme cold issues of their own. Refiners on the East and West coast weren’t directly impacted, although the disruption should allow them a nice bump in margins that’s much needed after a brutal year that has many plants on the verge of closing.

The EIA this morning highlighted the dramatic drop in natural gas production last week that contributed to both the widespread power outages, and the forced closure of so many refineries. One thing we saw after the 2005 hurricanes was that refiners got much better at preparing for hurricanes to minimize damage, and they’ll no doubt be coming up with new plans for avoiding this type of catastrophe in the future as well.

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

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Market TalkThursday, Feb 29 2024

It's Another Mixed Start For Energy Futures This Morning After Refined Products Saw Some Heavy Selling Wednesday

It's another mixed start for energy futures this morning after refined products saw some heavy selling Wednesday. Both gasoline and diesel prices dropped 7.5-8.5 cents yesterday despite a rather mundane inventory report. The larger-than-expected build in crude oil inventories (+4.2 million barrels) was the only headline value of note, netting WTI futures a paltry 6-cent per barrel gain on the day.

The energy markets seem to be holding their breath for this morning’s release of the Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). The price index is the Fed’s preferred inflation monitor and has the potential to impact how the central bank moves forward with interest rates.

Nationwide refinery runs are still below their 5-year average with utilization across all PADDs well below 90%. While PADD 3 production crossed its 5-year average, it’s important to note that measure includes the “Snovid” shutdown of 2021 and throughput is still below the previous two years with utilization at 81%.

We will have to wait until next week to see if the FCC and SRU shutdowns at Flint Hills’ Corpus Christi refinery will have a material impact on the regions refining totals. Detail on the filing can be found on the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality website.

Update: the PCE data shows a decrease in US inflation to 2.4%, increasing the likelihood of a rate cut later this year. Energy futures continue drifting, unfazed.

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
Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkWednesday, Feb 28 2024

It’s Red Across The Board For Energy Prices So Far This Morning With The ‘Big Three’ Contracts All Trading Lower To Start The Day

It’s red across the board for energy prices so far this morning with the ‘big three’ contracts (RBOB, HO, WTI) all trading lower to start the day. Headlines are pointing to the rise in crude oil inventories as the reason for this morning’s pullback, but refined product futures are leading the way lower, each trading down 1% so far, while the crude oil benchmark is only down around .3%.

The American Petroleum Institute published their national inventory figures yesterday afternoon, estimating an 8+ million-barrel build in crude oil inventory across the country. Gasoline and diesel stocks are estimated to have dropped by 3.2 and .5 million barrels last week, respectively. The official report from the Department of Energy is due out at its regular time this morning (9:30 CST).

OPEC’n’friends are rumored to be considering extending their voluntary production cuts into Q2 of this year in an effort to buoy market prices. These output reductions, reaching back to late 2022, are aimed at paring back global supply by about 2.2 million barrels per day and maintaining a price floor. On the flip side, knowledge of the suspended-yet-available production capacity and record US output is keeping a lid on prices.

How long can they keep it up? While the cartel’s de facto leader (Saudi Arabia) may be financially robust enough to sustain itself through reduced output indefinitely, that isn’t the case for other member countries. Late last year Angola announced it will be leaving OPEC, freeing itself to produce and market its oil as it wishes. This marks the fourth membership suspension over the past decade (Indonesia 2016, Qatar 2019, Ecuador 2020).

The spot price for Henry Hub natural gas hit a record low, exchanging hands for an average of $1.50 per MMBtu yesterday. A rise in production over the course of 2023 and above average temperatures this winter have pressured the benchmark to a price not seen in its 27-year history, much to Russia’s chagrin.

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