Chances Of Stimulus Package Points Equity Markets Higher

Market TalkMonday, Oct 19 2020
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It’s a quiet start to the week, with most energy markets moving slightly lower on the day. The sideways trading patterns are still intact for most petroleum futures, with longer term charts favoring more downside this winter. Equity markets are pointed higher to start the week, with credit being given to increasing chances of a stimulus package being forced through congress this week. 

China’s refinery runs dipped in September, but remained higher than a year ago and are close to the all-time highs set this summer. That sounds bullish on its own, but inventories are also rising, suggesting that supply is outkicking its coverage from the demand recovery, and will put downward pressure on product prices in the months to come. European refiners are getting squeezed by the increase in Asian refinery capacity, and their own climate laws that are forcing more plants out of business. Something to watch near term is if Brexit negotiations mean more gasoline from the UK will be forced to go to the U.S. to avoid tariffs from the EU.

Money managers trimmed their net length in WTI and RBOB contracts last week, but while adding some small positions in Brent and ULSD. Enthusiasm continues to be lacking in the money flows to energy contracts, as the outstanding positions for most categories of trader are much smaller than they’ve been in years past. 

After 10 years, the CFTC finally passed a rule (which was required as part of the Dodd Frank regulations passed after the financial crisis) placing position limits on speculative positions in a variety of contracts in the energy, agriculture and metal markets. It’s no surprise that something that took a decade to agree on would be controversial, and reading the dissenting opinions of CFTC commissioners sheds light on the potential loopholes in the rule. With open interest already on the decline as the funds who tried to convince retail investors that oil futures were a safe investment are now limping towards the exits, it looks unlikely that we’ll notice anything different following the passing of the new rule. 

Baker Hughes reported 12 more oil rigs were put to work last week, a fourth straight weekly increase, and the largest since January. The interesting part of the increase this week is that Utah and Wyoming – which had just one active oil rig between them last week – saw five new rigs put to work. It’s much less surprising that Texas had seven rigs added, although none of them were in the Permian. 

Epsilon is expected to be named as a storm in the next day or two, with the NHC giving the system 100% odds of further development today. The storm is expected to stay offshore as it heads north past Bermuda, and should not approach the U.S. Coast, although some delays for vessel traffic along the East Coast could occur due to strong winds and some coastal flooding potential. The system in the Caribbean is still given just 20% odds of development.

A federal court ruled Friday that a default had occurred on PDVSA’s long-contested bonds, which were deemed valid and enforceable by the decision. That decision could ultimately force a sale of Citgo, which was used as collateral for the bonds, but the U.S. refinery is still protected by the U.S. treasury sanctions on Venezuela, at least through January.

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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.

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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.

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Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkWednesday, Jul 17 2024

Week 28 - US DOE Inventory Recap