The Question Roiling Equity Markets

Market TalkFriday, Oct 9 2020
Market Talk Updates - Social Header

It’s a weak start to end a strong week for energy prices that have had plenty of back and forth action from the storms swirling around Louisiana and Washington D.C. 

Delta looks like it should have relatively minor impacts on supply infrastructure along the gulf coast. Potentially, there should be no noticeable impact on the adjacent markets, as it’s taking a favorable track while it heads towards landfall tonight. 

Stimulus or not continues to be the question roiling equity markets this week with a flurry of mixed signals from both the legislative and executive branches of government, and many are expecting more volatility due to uncertainty surrounding the election.

After all the choppiness in the past few weeks, refined product prices find themselves essentially in the middle of the sideways trading range that’s held them since June, leaving the technical outlook neutral near term, while longer term charts still hint at a larger move lower if prices can’t sustain a rally soon.

Delta is currently a Category 3 storm with winds around 120 miles an hour, and is expected to make landfall east of Lake Charles later tonight with winds around 100 miles an hour. It looks like Delta will hit less than 20 miles from where Laura made landfall, with numerous homes and businesses still not repaired from that storm. The good news is Delta is not nearly as powerful as Laura (100 mph vs. 150 mph for Laura) and Lake Charles looks like it will stay on the west side of the storm instead of taking a direct hit like it did six weeks ago. However Delta is a very large storm, so storm surge, tornados and power outages are expected to threaten almost all of the entire Louisiana coast line. 

The current path of the storm would essentially thread the needle by hitting right in the middle of a 350 mile stretch of coastline. This is home to 27 refineries, which accounts for 40% of total U.S. capacity. The eye of the storm would not come within 30 miles of any one of those plants. Most of the facilities in Lake Charles and Pt. Arthur aren’t betting that will mean no impact on operations however, with many shutting units until the storm passes, as power outages are still a major concern and have the potential to be much more widespread than the storm itself.      

OPEC’s World Oil Outlook highlighted the numerous challenges faced by the industry in the coming years due to COVID and the accelerated push towards renewables in many areas, but still estimates that oil will continue to be the largest piece of the global energy puzzle through 2045. The report also suggests that global oil consumption will continue to grow during the next 25 year stretch, although developed countries like the U.S. may have already seen their peak oil demand, and that a wave of oil refinery consolidation is required to balance the market.

A handful of other highlights from the WOO:

  • Oil demand growth is expected to recover during the medium-term, linked to demand ‘catching up,' especially in the sectors affected the most by restrictions during the COVID-19 crisis. These include the aviation, road transport and industry sectors.

  • U.S. tight oil will grow until around 2030, but not as much as previously expected

  • Crude distillation capacity is expected to increase by 15.6 mb/d until 2045, with a significant slowdown in the rate of required additions

  • Natural gas will be the fastest-growing fossil fuel between 2019 and 2045

  • ‘Other renewables’ [Solar, Wind, Geothermal] retain the position of fastest growing source of energy in both relative and absolute terms

This article on the concerns over cooking and heating fuel shortages due to the closure of Newfoundland’s only refinery offers a glimpse of the numerous logistical headaches that will come from the rash of closures taking place around the world. In short, there’s still ample supply around the world, but the distribution network will take years to adjust. 

One of the more popular of the numerous “clean” energy sources that are making their way through the news lately is Hydrogen. A WSJ article Thursday noted that the biggest challenge facing this alternative fuel is it requires lots of fossil fuels to produce.

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

TACenergy MarketTalk 100920

News & Views

View All
Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkMonday, Dec 5 2022

The Officially Imposed Sanctions Against Russian Oil Exports Are Taking Credit For This Morning’s Gains In Energy Prices

The officially imposed sanctions against Russian oil exports are taking credit for this morning’s gains in energy prices. Brent futures, the benchmark for European crude oil, are leading the pack higher so far today, trading up nearly 3%. West Texas Intermediate futures, along with both American refined product contracts, are tagging along with 1.5-2.5% gains.

OPEC’n’friends decided to stay pat on their Production Reduction™ policy through the end of the year, which aims to remove about 2 million barrels per day from global oil inventories. The relatively muted response in energy futures action suggests the ban on Russian crude and the continued reduction in cartel oil supply were both largely priced in.

It seems we have averted disaster last Friday as Washington passed legislation to prevent rail workers from going on strike. While the vast majority of refined products are transported to market hubs via pipeline, the required ethanol component of retail gasoline is by-and-large supplied via railcars.

Heating Oil futures stand out as the lone contract of the ‘big five’ that saw increased bullish bets from money managers last week, mostly due to the trimming of short positions rather than the addition of long positions. It seems fewer and fewer traders are willing to bet on lower diesel prices heading into the winter, where distillates act as backup supply for heating homes.

Market participants in crude oil futures fell to lows not seen since 2016 last week. It seems the global uncertainty surrounding energy supply and infrastructure has some potential players taking a wait-and-see approach rather than betting on price direction.

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

Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkFriday, Dec 2 2022

The Energy Complex Is Trading Mostly Lower So Far This Morning

The energy complex is trading mostly lower so far this morning, with prompt month RBOB futures leading the way. Brent crude oil is struggling to hold on to overnight gains and it is exchanging hands on the green side of even, if only just.

The easing of quarantine protocols in China is taking partial credit for the weekly gain in WTI futures this morning, despite the emergence of reports and images showing provisional camps set up to enforce isolation and curb the latest spread of the pandemic.

The “ban” on Russian crude oil, set to take effect on Monday, has yet to reach final approval in Europe. Poland seems to be one of the last holdouts and has not been shy about wanting the price cap to be as low as possible.

Sunday’s OPEC+ meeting, which will reportedly be held virtually, is also getting some play in the headlines this morning. While some consider the setting of the meeting to telegraph no change in the cartel’s production policy, others posit the group is considering cuts ahead of next week’s oil ban.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics published the November jobs report this morning, an increase in nonfarm payrolls of 263,000 while unemployment rate held pat at 3.7%. The stock market did not like that: S&P 500 futures dropped 1.4% on the news as traders expect higher-than-expected job growth to buttress the Fed’s intent on continuing to raise interest rates.

The EPA published their proposed volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard for the next three years and is now seeking public opinion on their target levels. Their report also estimates that the RIN obligations will reduce US oil imports by ~170,000 barrels per year. Is that a typo? We imported 6 million barrels per day last week, for reference.

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

Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkThursday, Dec 1 2022

December Trading Is Kicking Off With Modest Gains For Energy Contracts

December trading is kicking off with modest gains for energy contracts after a strong finish to November helped the complex avoid a technical breakdown.  

Equity markets saw another big rally Wednesday after the FED chair suggested that smaller rate hikes were coming. The correlation between energy and equity markets remains weak, so it doesn’t seem like that’s having much influence on daily pricing, but it certainly doesn’t hurt the case for a recovery rally.  New reports that China may ease some lockdowns in the wake of last weekend’s protests is also getting some credit for the strength in prices after they reached 11 month lows on Monday.

The DOE’s weekly report had something for everyone with crude oil stocks showing some bullish figures while refined product supplies got some much-needed relief.

US Crude oil inventories saw a huge drop of more than 12 million barrels last week thanks to a surge in exports to the 3rd highest level on record, a drop in imports, and the SPR sales that have been supplementing commercial supplies for the past 6 months wind down. The market reaction was fairly muted to the big headline drop, which is probably due to the inconsistent nature of the import/export flows, which are likely to reverse course next week. The lack of SPR injections will be a key figure to watch through the winter, particularly as the Russian embargo starts next week.

Diesel inventories increases across all 5 PADDs last week, as demand dipped again and imports ticked higher. Diesel exports remain above average, and are expected to continue that pace in the near term as European and Latin American buyers continue to be short. Read this note for why in the long term more of those supplies will probably come from China or Kuwait

US refiners continue to run all-out, with total throughput last week reaching its highest level since the start of the pandemic, even though we’ve lost more than 600,000 barrels/day of capacity since then. Those high run rates at a time of soft demand help explain why we’re seeing big negative basis values at the refining hubs around the country and if the pipeline and vessel outlets can’t keep pace to move that product elsewhere we may see those refiners forced to cut back due to lack of storage options.

The EPA was required by court order to submit its plans for the renewable fuel standard by November 16, and then came to an agreement to release them on November 30, and then apparently decided to meet that deadline, but not release the plan to the public. If you think this is ridiculous, you’re not alone, but keep in mind this is the same agency that regularly missed the statutory deadline by more than a year previously, so it’s also not too surprising. This is also the law that required 16 billion gallons/year of cellulosic biofuels be blended by 2022 when it was put into place 15 years ago, only to run into a wall of physical reality where the country is still unable to produce even 1 billion gallons/year of that fuel. 

There are still expectations that the public may get to see the proposed rulings later this week, and reports that renewable electricity generation will be added to the mix for the first time ever starting next year. RIN prices were pulling back from the 18 month highs they reached leading up to the non-announcement as it seems the addition of “eRINs” will add new RIN supply, and potentially offset the increased biofuel mandates.

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