Yo-Yo Action Continues In Energy Markets

Market TalkThursday, Apr 1 2021
Traders Torn As Opposing Trend Lines Converge

The yo-yo action continues in energy markets this week after March trading ended with heavy selling, only to see those losses erased in the first few hours of April.  

The OPEC policy meeting is today, which will often add to volatility as rumors and speculation run rampant ahead of the official announcement, if they decide to make one. We’re also heading into a rare holiday weekend that will include the March jobs report when markets are closed, which could create some more swings when trading resumes Sunday night. 

Yesterday’s DOE report offered good news for both demand and supply in the U.S., as gasoline consumption hit a six month high, and supplies look like they’re almost back to normal levels. 

Total U.S. refinery runs have finally returned to the levels we saw six weeks ago before Texas froze over. PADD 3 (Gulf Coast) run rates are still slightly below where they were prior to the storm as several units are still being repaired, but total runs in the region did increase by more than 550mb/day last week. 

Those increased run rates can be felt from West Texas to Philadelphia as allocations begin to ease and outages become more rare this week. Colonial pipeline reported earlier in the week that supplies along its system were increasing, alleviating some of the pressure on markets across the South East, but would still need more product input along the Gulf Coast to get back to normal run rates. 

Speaking of pressure on Colonial, the PHMSA released a proposed safety order warning Colonial that it must take measures to reduce potential risk along its system after a study of last year’s gasoline leak that ended up being a much bigger deal than originally thought. This report may be much ado about nothing as Colonial has already implemented safety measures, and was using the recent slowdown in operating rates to perform more maintenance, but it will be important to keep an eye on given its outsized influence on supply across a huge part of the country, not to mention the growing list of disruptions over the past five years.

Another sign that things are getting back to normal on the supply side of the economic equation, imports of petroleum products dropped back closer to their seasonal average after hitting their highest levels in a decade following the polar plunge.

RIN prices also continued their rollercoaster ride Wednesday, taking back 6-8 cents of the losses they faced earlier in the week, as lower than forecast planting estimates in the quarterly crop report had grains and soybean oil trading limit up on the day. No word yet if Mr. Beeks had been consulted on the crop report since those products were selling off sharply ahead of the report which certainly has several traders wishing for a do over.

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

TACenergy MarketTalk Update 040121

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Market TalkFriday, Jul 19 2024

Summertime-Friday-Apathy Trade Influencing Energy Markets

Energy markets are treading water to start the day as the Summertime-Friday-Apathy trade seems to be influencing markets around the world in the early going. RBOB futures are trying for a 3rd straight day of gains to wipe out the losses we saw to start the week, while ULSD futures continue to look like the weak link, trading lower for a 2nd day and down nearly 3 cents for the week.

Bad to worse: Exxon’s Joliet refinery remains offline with reports that repairs may take through the end of the month. On top of that long delay in restoring power to the facility, ENT reported this morning that the facility has leaked hydrogen fluoride acid gas, which is a dangerous and controversial chemical used in alkylation units. Chicago basis values continue to rally because of the extended downtime, with RBOB differentials approaching a 50-cent premium to futures, which sets wholesale prices just below the $3 mark, while ULSD has gone from the weakest in the country a month ago to the strongest today. In a sign of how soft the diesel market is over most of the US, however, the premium commanded in a distressed market is still only 2 cents above prompt futures.

The 135mb Calcasieu Refinery near Lake Charles LA has been taken offline this morning after a nearby power substation went out, and early reports suggest repairs will take about a week. There is no word yet if that power substation issue has any impacts on the nearby Citgo Lake Charles or P66 Westlake refineries.

Two tanker ships collided and caught fire off the coast of Singapore this morning. One ship was a VLCC which is the largest tanker in the world capable of carrying around 2 million barrels. The other was a smaller ship carrying “only” 300,000 barrels (roughly 12 million gallons) of naphtha. The area is known for vessels in the “dark fleet” swapping products offshore to avoid sanctions, so a collision isn’t too surprising as the vessels regularly come alongside one another, and this shouldn’t disrupt other ships from transiting the area.

That’s (not) a surprise: European auditors have determined the bloc’s green hydrogen goals are unattainable despite billions of dollars of investment, and are based on “political will” rather than analysis. Also (not) surprising, the ambitious plans to build a “next-gen” hydrogen-powered refinery near Tulsa have been delayed.

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

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Market TalkThursday, Jul 18 2024

Refined Products Stanch Bleeding Despite Inventory Builds And Demand Slump

Refined products are trading slightly lower to start Thursday after they stopped the bleeding in Wednesday’s session, bouncing more than 2 cents on the day for both RBOB and ULSD, despite healthy inventory builds reported by the DOE along with a large slump in gasoline demand.

Refinery runs are still above average across the board but were pulled in PADD 3 due to the short-term impacts of Beryl. The Gulf Coast region is still outpacing the previous two years and sitting at the top end of its 5-year range as refiners in the region play an interesting game of chicken with margins, betting that someone else’s facility will end up being forced to cut rates before theirs.

Speaking of which, Exxon Joliet was reportedly still offline for a 3rd straight day following weekend thunderstorms that disrupted power to the area. Chicago RBOB basis jumped by another dime during Wednesday’s session as a result of that downtime. Still, that move is fairly pedestrian (so far) in comparison to some of the wild swings we’ve come to expect from the Windy City. IIR via Reuters reports that the facility will be offline for a week.

LA CARBOB differentials are moving in the opposite direction meanwhile as some unlucky seller(s) appear to be stuck long and wrong as gasoline stocks in PADD 5 reach their highest level since February, and held above the 5-year seasonal range for a 4th consecutive week. The 30-cent discount to August RBOB marks the biggest discount to futures since 2022.

The EIA Wednesday also highlighted its forecast for rapid growth in “Other” biofuels production like SAF and Renewable Naptha and Propane, as those producers capable of making SAF instead of RD can add an additional $.75/gallon of federal credits when the Clean Fuels Producer’s Credit takes hold next year. The agency doesn’t break out the products between the various “Other” renewable fuels, but the total projected output of 50 mb/day would amount to roughly 2% of total Jet Fuel production if it was all turned to SAF, which of course it won’t as the other products come along for the ride similar to traditional refining processes.

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

Pivotal Week For Price Action