Refined Products Bounce Keeping Prices Well Above Their 6-Week-Old Trend Lines

Market TalkThursday, Jan 26 2023
Pivotal Week For Price Action

Refined products are bouncing back this morning after 2 days of selling as a bit of economic optimism appears to be creeping back into the market. The bounce keeps prices well above their 6-week-old trend lines and keeps the bulls in position to push prices substantially higher in the coming weeks and makes the past two days of selling look like nothing more than profit taking to cure an overbought market.

Stocks and energy prices reacted positively to the 4th quarter US GDP estimates this morning that showed the economy continued to expand, albeit at a slower pace than in Q3, and that the consumer continues to be resilient with purchases and savings despite so much consternation about a looming recession.  International travel was noted as a highlight in this report, and could be a major theme this year as China has reopened its doors while many other countries get closer to business as usual and release the pent up demand of 3 years of COVID travel restrictions.

Despite surging exports, light imports, and no more SPR releases, crude oil inventories continue to build in the US as refinery runs continue to be far below planned levels. The recovery from the Christmas blizzard and a handful of other events in the past few weeks continues, but we’re still seeing utilization that’s several percentage points below where it would be otherwise. These lower run rates on top of already low inventory levels would be much more painful if demand wasn’t still very sluggish, and adding another anecdote for the half that think the US economy is already in a recession

Then again, it’s also January which is typically the worst demand month of the year, and we’re in the midst of a parade of winter storms sweeping the entire country and keeping many vehicles off the road, so if we do see a normal demand rebound heading into the spring months, supply may get very tight again in short order.

Valero reported another banner quarter in Q4 this morning, and ended the year with net income of $11.8 billion, compared to $1.3 billion in 2021. The company’s refineries operated at 97% during the quarter, which was the highest since 2018 as they, along with all the others that were able, maximized output to try and help alleviate chronic inventory shortages and take advantage of the record margins those shortages bring. The report also noted that the expansion of their newest Diamond Green renewable diesel facility was completed during the quarter, and the coker project at the Port Arthur refinery which will expand capacity is due to be completed in Q2. 

Total reported Wednesday that its refinery outside Houston was knocked offline during Tuesday’s severe weather event.  The report suggests the plants boilers were restarted early Wednesday morning, suggesting that the facility avoided any major damage. That facility is just a couple of miles from the Deer Park refinery that was also knocked offline during the storm and restarted a few hours later. Those are the only two facilities reporting so far, while several others in the region have said their operations remain stable, so it seems we’ve avoided a major disruption from that system.

Click here to download a PDF of today's TACenergy Market Talk, including all charts from the Weekly DOE Report.

Market Talk Update 01.26.2023

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Market TalkFriday, Sep 29 2023

The Energy Bulls Are On The Run This Morning, Lead By Heating And Crude Oil Futures

The energy bulls are on the run this morning, lead by heating and crude oil futures. The November HO contract is trading ~7.5 cents per gallon (2.3%) higher while WTI is bumped $1.24 per barrel (1.3%) so far in pre-market trading. Their gasoline counterpart is rallying in sympathy with .3% gains to start the day.

The October contracts for both RBOB and HO expire today, and while trading action looks to be pretty tame so far, it isn’t a rare occurrence to see some big price swings on expiring contracts as traders look to close their positions. It should be noted that the only physical market pricing still pricing their product off of October futures, while the rest of the nation already switched to the November contract over the last week or so.

We’ve now got two named storms in the Atlantic, Philippe and Rina, but both aren’t expected to develop into major storms. While most models show both storms staying out to sea, the European model for weather forecasting shows there is a possibility that Philippe gets close enough to the Northeast to bring rain to the area, but not much else.

The term “$100 oil” is starting to pop up in headlines more and more mostly because WTI settled above the $90 level back on Tuesday, but partially because it’s a nice round number that’s easy to yell in debates or hear about from your father-in-law on the golf course. While the prospect of sustained high energy prices could be harmful to the economy, its important to note that the current short supply environment is voluntary. The spigot could be turned back on at any point, which could topple oil prices in short order.

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

Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkThursday, Sep 28 2023

Gasoline And Crude Oil Futures Are All Trading Between .5% And .8% Lower To Start The Day

The energy complex is sagging this morning with the exception of the distillate benchmark as the prompt month trading higher by about a penny. Gasoline and crude oil futures are all trading between .5% and .8% lower to start the day, pulling back after WTI traded above $95 briefly in the overnight session.

There isn’t much in the way of news this morning with most still citing the expectation for tight global supply, inflation and interest rates, and production cuts by OPEC+.

As reported by the Department of Energy yesterday, refinery runs dropped in all PADDs, except for PADD 3, as we plug along into the fall turnaround season. Crude oil inventories drew down last week, despite lower runs and exports, and increased imports, likely due to the crude oil “adjustment” the EIA uses to reconcile any missing barrels from their calculated estimates.

Diesel remains tight in the US, particularly in PADD 5 (West Coast + Nevada, Arizona) but stockpiles are climbing back towards their 5-year seasonal range. It unsurprising to see a spike in ULSD imports to the region since both Los Angeles and San Francisco spot markets are trading at 50+ cent premiums to the NYMEX. We’ve yet to see such relief on the gasoline side of the barrel, and we likely won’t until the market switches to a higher RVP.

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