Disappearing Rallies Are Becoming A Theme In The Energy Arena

Market TalkThursday, Dec 2 2021
Pivotal Week For Price Action

Disappearing rallies are becoming a theme in the energy arena this week as Wednesday’s action saw 10 cent overnight gains erased throughout the day, and already Thursday we’ve seen nickel gains overnight turn into 3 cent losses early going. The smack downs of any attempted bounce are adding to the bearish sentiment on the charts, and leaving the complex at risk of another sharp selloff in the back half of the week. 

There is no doubt that fear is taking hold of both equity and energy markets, with volatility indices soaring to 1 year highs, and each mention of a new Omicron case seeming to have an immediately negative impact on prices, particularly now that the FED seems to be changing its stance, and viewing the virus as an inflation risk, not a reason to create more inflation themselves as they’ve done the past 2 years.

The best hope for a recovery rally that’s able to last more than a few hours may come from the OPEC & Friends meeting this morning, if the cartel agrees to pause or reverse its output increases due to the Omicron outbreak and its expected impact on global fuel demand. Then again, the guesses that the cartel may change course today have been increasing all week and yet prices continue to fall. 

The DOE’s weekly report was largely shrugged off and overshadowed by the Omicron in the US story Wednesday, but there are some bearish fundamentals that won’t help encourage buyers to step in and buy the dip.  US Crude oil production reached an 18 month high, even though there’s still a quarter million gallons per day of production offline from Hurricane Ida, and numerous bottlenecks in the supply chain slowing the rate of drilling. As those two issues are worked through in 2022, it’s likely we will see US output jump north of 12 million barrels/day at a time when the world doesn’t seem to need more supply.

Speaking of which, the report also showed a large pullback in US fuel demand, particularly in gasoline, and with the holiday hangover not yet in the numbers, we could see another big drop in consumption in the weeks to come.

While the meltdown in futures is getting most of the attention this week, prices in the Pacific Northwest have been resisting the trend with basis values jumping sharply higher as at least 3 refineries in the region are still having to reduce run rates due to a lack of crude oil supply caused by last month’s flooding. The good news for suppliers in the region is that Transmountain pipeline is still on track to restart next week which should bring relief to those plants in short order.

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

Market Talk Update 12.02.21

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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
Market TalkWednesday, Jul 17 2024

Week 28 - US DOE Inventory Recap