Trio Of Supply Concerns Dissipate

Market TalkMonday, Oct 12 2020
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Energy prices are under pressure for a second straight session following strong weekly gains as a trio of supply concerns are dissipating, which seems to be outweighing the stimulus optimism fueling another rally in equity markets.  

Hurricane Delta made landfall as a Category 2 storm Friday evening, just 13 miles from where Hurricane Laura hit six weeks ago. While Delta didn’t pack the punch that Laura did, and didn’t stick around long enough to dump the huge amounts of rain parts of the gulf coast saw from Hurricane Sally, it did produce wide spread power outages that are hampering the supply network. Most of the refiners in the Pt Arthur area had to shut units down due to storm-related issues, and Colonial pipeline’s main diesel line is still shut down as they await power to be restored near the Lake Charles area. 

No word yet on the status of the Lake Charles refineries, but based on the storm’s path, and the damage we’ve already seen further away in Pt. Arthur, it appears likely both facilities will have to go through another round of repairs to resume operations. Just like with Laura, it will likely be a few days until the damage can be assessed at the facilities that were just resuming operations after Laura and will now start over again.  It appears that the plants around Baton Rouge and New Orleans, which were originally in Delta’s crosshairs, have dodged yet another bullet in the busiest hurricane season on record. 

There are roughly seven weeks left in the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, and the NHC is giving 30% probability that a system churning east of the Windward islands will develop in the next five days. Those are relatively low odds, and wind conditions don’t appear favorable at the moment, but in this record setting year, it seems like a mistake to ignore any potential storm.

Good news for Libya, bad news for OPEC? The beleaguered country’s oil output is coming back online, complicating OPEC’s output plans as Libya has been exempted from previous production cuts. 

The Norwegian oil strike came to an end after successful mediation last week, which will keep more than 300mb/day of oil production online, adding to the downward pressure on prices.

Baker Hughes reported four more oil rigs were put to work last week, the third weekly increase in a row. Texas and New Mexico accounted for the build with Permian and Eagle Ford basins each adding one rig on the week, and two more were added in smaller unclassified areas.

Money managers continue to be unimpressed with oil contracts, making small reductions in net length in WTI and Brent for a second week, while making small increases to bullish wagers on refined products. RBOB gasoline continues to see a counter-seasonal bet on higher prices from the large speculators, while ULSD contracts remain in a net short position as the big funds bet diesel prices will lag.

New cleaner energy options continue to be a major story that’s getting even more attention given the polarity of the Presidential candidates on the issue. An unintended consequence in the surge of “green” stimulus packages is that they’re driving up costs for these projects, similar to what we saw with the spike in home remodeling & pool installation projects this summer. A Rystad energy report last week highlighted how those rising costs may hamper the development of one of the more promising alternatives, Green Hydrogen.

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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.

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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.