The First 4.5 Trading Days Of March Have Smashed Records For Daily Price Swings And Increases

Market TalkMonday, Mar 7 2022
Pivotal Week For Price Action

Good news: gasoline prices are down 28 cents and diesel prices are down 33 cents from where they were trading last night. 

Bad news: both contracts reached record highs last night in the first few minutes of trading, and are still showing large gains from Friday despite the pullback. 

The first 4.5 trading days of March have smashed records for daily price swings and increases as the world comes to grips with the idea that there is no short term solution to replace Russian petroleum supplies, making the risk of both volatility and government intervention higher than ever.  For both ULSD and RBOB, these would be the largest monthly gains on record if prices hold, and we’re not even through a full week yet. 

For ULSD, we’ve already seen the biggest monthly trading range ($1.30/gallon) in just 4.5 days of trading, while the RBOB range of $.95 ranks third all-time behind the March 2020 and December 2008 market meltdowns that both surpassed $1/gallon. 

An official Russian oil embargo (vs the current unofficial and voluntary embargo) was floated over the weekend, while renewed negotiations to reduce sanctions and increase oil output with both Iran and Venezuela seem to be going nowhere, and both seem to be factors in the latest price spike.    

Already, even though energy products aren’t officially sanctioned (yet), we’re seeing dramatic signs of the impact a lack of international buyers is having on its refining operations, as plants are forced to cut run rates and halt crude intake due to a lack of storage for their production. Refinery maintenance and upgrades are also expected to be hampered without access to foreign technology.   

Regional supplies in the US have been disrupted over the past two weeks by a pair of Kinder Morgan pipeline issues, and a handful of (so far minor) refinery disruptions. The coastal markets remain tight in general, while inland markets remain well supplied, and lacking transportation to help alleviate their glut, and/or take advantage of the record spreads from the middle of the country to the edges.

RIN values pulled back on Friday, even as Corn, Soybean (and refined product) prices continued to spike.  A “news” article suggesting the White House was considering a biofuel waiver to help curb food inflation seems to have been the driver of that selling. Other non-food-based environmental credits like the European EUA’s, and California’s LCFS and CCA credits are all seeing heavy selling as expectations rise for both demand destruction, and a change of heart from governments that just a few weeks ago still thought having clean energy was more important than having energy. 

Short covering was the theme of the week for money managers, that saw large reductions in the short positions held in energy futures. WTI and Brent saw some modest new length enter the market, but the lack of “piling on” at least in the first two days of the week when the CFTC data is collected, suggested these huge swings may be too hot to handle, even for the big speculators.

Baker Hughes reported a decline of 3 oil rigs working in the US last week, snapping a 5 week streak of increases. Natural gas rigs increased by 3, the 9th straight week of gains for natural gas focused drilling.

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

Market Talk Update 3.7.22

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Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkMonday, Oct 2 2023

Gasoline Futures Are Leading The Energy Complex Higher This Morning With 1.5% Gains So Far In Pre-Market Trading

Gasoline futures are leading the energy complex higher this morning with 1.5% gains so far in pre-market trading. Heating oil futures are following close behind, exchanging hands 4.5 cents higher than Friday’s settlement (↑1.3%) while American and European crude oil futures trade modestly higher in sympathy.

The world’s largest oil cartel is scheduled to meet this Wednesday but is unlikely they will alter their supply cuts regimen. The months-long rally in oil prices, however, has some thinking Saudi Arabia might being to ease their incremental, voluntary supply cuts.

Tropical storm Rina has dissolved over the weekend, leaving the relatively tenured Philippe the sole point of focus in the Atlantic storm basin. While he is expected to strengthen into a hurricane by the end of this week, most projections keep Philippe out to sea, with a non-zero percent chance he makes landfall in Nova Scotia or Maine.

Unsurprisingly the CFTC reported a 6.8% increase in money manager net positions in WTI futures last week as speculative bettors piled on their bullish bets. While $100 oil is being shoutedfromeveryrooftop, we’ve yet to see that conviction on the charts: open interest on WTI futures is far below that of the last ~7 years.

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

Pivotal Week For Price Action
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.