Reversal Thursday In Effect For Energy Futures

Market TalkThursday, Apr 11 2019
Bulls Have Taken Back Control Of Energy Markets

Reversal Thursday is in effect for energy futures as prices pulled back overnight after a strong Wednesday showing that saw gasoline prices surge another 7 cents/gallon, and most other contracts reach fresh 5 month highs. There’s a bit of a tug-of-war going on between the energy reports this week with yesterday’s OPEC & DOE reports showing bullish inventory figures, while today’s IEA report is more bearish on demand. While today’s pullback was probably overdue given the recent price run-up, we’ll need to see the losses double if the upward trend is to be broken.

Lost in the noise of yesterday’s price rally: US refinery capacity increased by 158mb/day last week according to the DOE’s estimates, the equivalent of adding a new average-sized refinery. That change is likely due to new projects completed to increase rates during the spring turnaround season, and brings the total US refining capacity to a new all-time high north of 18.7 million barrels/day.

This week marked the first time US gasoline stocks fell below their seasonal 5-year average since the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, a truly remarkable change from the all-time high levels we saw less than 3 months ago.

The OPEC monthly report showed a decline of more than 500mb/day of production from the cartel as Saudi Arabia (down 324mb/day for March) continued its intentional cuts, while Venezuela (down 289) continued unintentionally reducing its output. It’s worth pointing out that Libya’s production did surge by almost 200mb/day in March, but that output is now at risk as their latest version of a civil war is taking place in April.

The IEA’s monthly oil market report showed similar declines in supply, but also gave warning on the demand side of the equation, noting that OECD oil demand fell for the past 2 quarters, primarily due to weak consumption in Europe and suggesting that the higher price environment may act as a headwind to future growth. The IEA’s report also noted a sharp drop in global refinery runs in March, largely due to the numerous unplanned outages in the US, on top of a busy turnaround season.

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Pivotal Week For Price Action
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.