Wild Week For Energy Markets

Market TalkThursday, Sep 19 2019
Quiet Start To End A Wild Week

May you live in interesting times”.

It’s been a wild week for energy markets, and a 5 cent rally to start Thursday’s action is keeping the volatility in full force as a flurry of interesting headlines are stirring markets all over the globe.

Reports that the Saudis are relying on oil imports to meet their customers’ demands were getting credit for the early buying, as those stories suggest the kingdom’s boasts about restoring production may have been more hat than cattle.

Just in the past few minutes reports are circling that Exxon may be forced to shut its Beaumont TX refinery – the 8th largest plant in the US – due to flooding caused by Tropical Storm Imelda. That news took the early morning gains from 3 cents to more than a nickel for refined products. With reports of 2 feet of rain in the Beaumont area, flooding is a serious concern for 3 other large refineries, with that immediate area accounting for 9% of the total US refining capacity. Officially there is no confirmation (yet) of any shutdowns, and no filings of emissions have been made to the TCEQ.

As we begin to move past the peak of hurricane season, there are 3 named storms and 3 more potential systems currently in the Atlantic basin. TS Jerry is expected to become a hurricane tomorrow, but most models continue to keep it out to sea along with Humberto. The other 3 systems are all given low odds of development.

The FOMC did announce a 2nd straight interest rate cut Wednesday, but equities reacted negatively to the news. Reports that the fed was forced to inject funds into the overnight repurchase market for a 2nd day (the first time since the financial crisis they’ve had to do this) has investors on edge despite the accommodative monetary policy as free flows of credit are a lynchpin to the economy.

The most notable data point from the DOE report Wednesday was a decline of 788mb/day of refinery output as fall maintenance appears to be in full swing. There were numerous reports this year that fall maintenance would be slower than normal as refiners moved work up earlier this year when margins were bad, and in anticipation of IMO changes at year end, so the big drop – while consistent seasonally – seemed to catch some off-guard.

While most eyes have been on oil markets this week, RIN values have hit multi-month highs on reports that the White House may have brokered a deal to reallocate some of the gallons waived for small refiners under the RFS.

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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.

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

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.