Rally Following Reports Of COVID Treatment Option

Market TalkMonday, Aug 24 2020
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Refined products are rallying to start the week, wiping out Friday’s losses as a pair of Tropical Storms head for the heart of U.S. refining operations, and U.S. stock indices are set to rally following reports of a new COVID treatment option.

Good news, Hurricane Marco has weakened back to tropical storm status prior to making landfall on the Louisiana coast. This means we will not see a record set this week with two hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico at the same time. Bad news is that Marco is turning along the coast instead of moving inland, which should mean heavy rains for the next two to three days to saturate the ground in refinery country just in time for Laura to show up. Laura is expected to be around a Category 2 storm when it hits land late Wednesday or early Thursday, with all of the refineries from Houston, Galveston, Beaumont, Port Arthur and Lake Charles still in the forecast cone. 

Ports of New Orleans and Baton Rouge have been closed as the storms approach, and the Texas ports along the eastern part of the coast are expected to follow suit in the next couple of days. Corpus Christi’s port, meanwhile, is facing its own challenges after a dredging vessel apparently hit a propane pipeline, causing an explosion and fire that killed four people. Refinery operations in the area do not seem to be impacted, but it’s yet another disruption to import/export activities this week that are likely to cause challenges for plants trying to alleviate their excess inventory.

Baker Hughes reported an increase of 11 oil rigs drilling last week, the largest weekly gain since January, and only the second weekly increase since March. The Permian basin accounted for 10 of the added rigs, while the Eagle Ford and Williston (Bakken) plays continued to decline. Bulls will see this as confirmation that demand is returning, which is supported by some signs of diesel consumption ticking higher across West Texas, while bears will suggest the increase was driven by producers forced to drill to avoid losing their leases. 

Money managers are starting to act modestly bullish for refined products, but continue to be neutral on crude oil. RBOB net length held by the large speculative trader category rose to the highest level since March, which is a counter-seasonal bet on higher gasoline prices. ULSD meanwhile saw its net position held by money managers turn from short to long for the first time since January. Both WTI and Brent saw slight declines in their net length, with the ongoing lack of interest being more of a story than the weekly change in positions.

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TACenergy MarketTalk 082420

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Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkWednesday, Jun 7 2023

Energy Prices Fluctuate: Chinese Imports Surge, Saudi Arabia Cuts Output and Buys Golf

Energy prices continue their back-and-forth trading, starting Wednesday’s session with modest gains, after a round of selling Tuesday wiped out the Saudi output cut bounce. 

A surge in China’s imports of crude oil and natural gas seem to be the catalyst for the early move higher, even though weak export activity from the world’s largest fuel buyer suggests the global economy is still struggling. 

New tactic?  Saudi Arabia’s plan to voluntarily cut oil production by another 1 million barrels/day failed to sustain a rally in oil prices to start the week, so they bought the PGA tour

The EIA’s monthly Short Term Energy Outlook raised its price forecast for oil, citing the Saudi cuts, and OPEC’s commitment to extend current production restrictions through 2024. The increase in prices comes despite reducing the forecast for US fuel consumption, as GDP growth projections continue to decline from previous estimates. 

The report included a special article on diesel consumption, and its changing relationship with economic activity that does a good job of explaining why diesel prices are $2/gallon cheaper today than they were a year ago.   

The API reported healthy builds in refined product inventories last week, with distillates up 4.5 million barrels while gasoline stocks were up 2.4 million barrels in the wake of Memorial Day. Crude inventories declined by 1.7 million barrels on the week. The DOE’s weekly report is due out at its normal time this morning. 

We’re still waiting on the EPA’s final ruling on the Renewable Fuel Standard for the next few years, which is due a week from today, but another Reuters article suggests that eRINs will not be included in this round of making up the rules.

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

Pivotal Week For Price Action
Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkTuesday, Jun 6 2023

Energy Prices Retreat, Global Demand Concerns Loom

So much for that rally. Energy prices have given back all of the gains made following Saudi Arabia’s announcement that it would voluntarily withhold another 1 million barrels/day of oil production starting in July. The pullback appears to be rooted in the ongoing concerns over global demand after a soft PMI report for May while markets start to focus on what the FED will do at its FOMC meeting next week.

The lack of follow through to the upside leaves petroleum futures stuck in neutral technical territory, and since the top end of the recent trading range didn’t break, it seems likely we could see another test of the lower end of the range in the near future.  

RIN prices have dropped sharply in the past few sessions, with traders apparently not waiting on the EPA’s final RFS ruling – due in a week – to liquidate positions. D6 values dropped to their lowest levels in a year Monday, while D4 values hit a 15-month low. In unrelated news, the DOE’s attempt to turn seaweed into biofuels has run into a whale problem.  

Valero reported a process leak at its Three Rivers TX refinery that lasted a fully 24 hours.  That’s the latest in a string of upsets for south Texas refineries over the past month that have kept supplies from San Antonio, Austin and DFW tighter than normal. Citgo Corpus Christi also reported an upset over the weekend at a sulfur recovery unit. Several Corpus facilities have been reporting issues since widespread power outages knocked all of the local plants offline last month.  

Meanwhile, the Marathon Galveston Bay (FKA Texas City) refinery had another issue over the weekend as an oil movement line was found to be leaking underground but does not appear to have impacted refining operations at the facility. Gulf Coast traders don’t seem concerned by any of the latest refinery issues, with basis values holding steady to start the week.

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