Early Morning Losses Turned Into Strong Afternoon Gains

Market TalkTuesday, Oct 25 2022
Pivotal Week For Price Action

After early morning losses turned into strong afternoon gains for refined products Monday, we saw another half-hearted selling attempt Tuesday as prices were down 4-5 cents overnight only to see prompt values turn positive by 7:30am.

Chaotic action in physical markets continues to be a major theme as supply shortages and big swings in price spreads keeps traders on edge. While East Coast diesel prices continue to slide down their backwardation curve, giving up 45 cents in prompt basis values over the past week, gasoline stocks are getting very tight again, driving up the spread between USGC and NYH spot markets, and pushing the premium to ship gasoline along Colonial north of 9 cents/gallon. 

Just as we saw when diesel spreads spiked earlier in October, the refinery disruptions in Europe and subsequent challenges with cargo transportation of refined products are getting the blame for this latest squeeze. This would be yet another case where a Jones Act waiver would make sense to get products from the Gulf Coast where they’re made, to the East Coast where they’re needed.

The NHC is tracking 3 potential tropical systems as we approach the last official month of the hurricane season. None of these systems are given high odds of development, but the two off the US East Coast could further complicate the already disjointed waterborne delivery market for fuel over the next week, while the system in the Caribbean will need to be watched as there is still warm enough water to make for a late season Hurricane.

The head of the IEA spoke at an energy conference in Singapore this week, and highlighted several components of the world’s “first truly global energy crisis”. The speech highlighted the ways that the majority of Russian oil will continue to flow this winter despite sanctions and price caps, the chance of more coordinated SPR releases and why energy security not ESG will be the driver of the transition to renewables. Last week the agency noted that renewable production had surpassed expectations this year, which reduced the outlook for carbon emissions despite many having to return to coal power generation as other options became scarce.

Q3 earnings reports are starting to be released, and no surprise that refiners who were operating are looking at another banner quarter. Q4 is looking even better for many refiners, assuming their plants are running, as USGC 5/3/2 crack spreads have climbed back north of $1/gallon, which is approaching the record setting levels we saw in Q2. 

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Market Talk Update 10.25.2022

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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