Energy Futures Are Moving Higher For A 2nd Day

Market TalkTuesday, Apr 5 2022
Pivotal Week For Price Action

Energy futures are moving higher for a 2nd day as supply shortages and the threat of more sanctions make last week’s SPR release more of a distant memory. The recovery rally after last week’s sell-off keeps the bullish trend lines in place and leaves the door open to another run at the $4 mark for refined products, even as Chinese COVID cases hit a new high and threatens to crimp global demand.

Saudi Arabia raised its oil prices in May, to record high differentials for some Asian markets, reflecting the continued challenges for buyers to find near term supplies to replace the loss of Russian exports. 

Just one more reason not to fly to New York: Last Thursday we mentioned the spike in NY Harbor Jet Fuel prices, which at the time had surged by more than $1/gallon over ULSD/HO futures. That price spike went completely wheels off in the following two sessions, with NYH spot prices now trading $4 above futures, and threatening to reach $8/gallon. Take a look at the chart below and note how this move made the record setting price swings in March seem quaint by comparison. There’s a well-known saying that the best cure for high prices is high prices, and this could be another example as this mind-blowing price spike hits the East Coast, and will encourage steps like waiving the Jones Act to allow the US to supply itself and alleviate these short-term shortages. 

While it pales in comparison to Jet prices, ULSD basis in the NY Harbor is also holding near record highs at more than 35 cents above NY Harbor ULSD futures. That premium boils down to a premium paid to have barrels now, vs at the end of May when the prompt futures contract would be delivered. That extreme backwardation is leading to huge swings in both directions for basis differentials around the country, depending on which futures contract that market is trading in reference to.  See the 2nd chart below.

Too late for a do-over?  Global refining margins have rarely been as high as they are currently, with outages across Russia and Ukraine caused directly or indirectly by the war, some European and Asian facilities facing feedstock shortages, and several US plants struggling with unplanned maintenance, you start to wonder if any of the facilities shuttered or sold in the past 18 months may attempt a comeback. Just yesterday Vertex closed on its purchase of Shell’s refinery in Mobile AL that was part of Shell’s refinery giveaway when going green was still the thing to do.  It sure seems like you could get more than $75 million for a 91MMB/Day facility on the Gulf Coast today.

Circular logic. The EIA this morning highlighted California’s Cap & Trade program, and noted the sharp increase in credit prices at the most recent auction, bringing in nearly $1 billion for the state. That $1 billion would cover about 10% of the cost of the CA Governor’s proposed plan to give a $400 rebate to vehicle owners to help offset high fuel prices

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Market Talk Update 4.5.22

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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.

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