Energy Futures Look Like They’re Stuck

Market TalkTuesday, May 21 2019
Gasoline And Diesel Contracts Trying To Lead Energy Complex Higher

Energy futures look like they’re stuck roughly half-way between their April highs and May lows, waiting for the next headline about China or Iran before making their next move. The choppy action has wiped out any technical momentum, making any sort of trend appear unlikely until we break out of this range in one direction or another.

Stock markets around the world are pointing higher after it appears the US eased some trade restrictions with Huwawei, allowing time for a trade deal to be negotiated.

Another drone attack was reported in Saudi Arabia, but seems to have been quickly dismissed as part of the long-running war in Yemen, rather than an escalation in violence that was threatening oil infrastructure last week. Speaking of which, with details remaining scarce on either of last week’s attacks that helped energy prices pull back from the brink of a major sell-off, doubts are creeping in about what really is happening, and whether or not Iran is involved.

We’re still 10 days away from the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season but just as we’ve seen in the past several years, we have an early storm as Andrea was named Monday near Bermuda. This subtropical storm is not a threat to the US, but it’s a reminder that it’s time to dust off those Hurricane preparedness plans.

Much closer to home a tornado outbreak is currently taking place across a swath of TX, OK and KS. There are a handful of refineries in the path of those storms, most of which feed the Group 3 market. No word yet on if there are any disruptions, but given the location and relatively small size, it’s unlikely we’ll see an impact on product futures if there is any damage to those plants, while WTI could be influenced if there are any impacts to the Cushing OK storage hub.

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Market TalkTuesday, Nov 28 2023

Values For Space On Colonial’s Main Gasoline Line Continue To Drop This Week

The petroleum complex continues to search for a price floor with relatively quiet price action this week suggesting some traders are going to wait and see what OPEC and Friends can decide on at their meeting Thursday. 

Values for space on Colonial’s main gasoline line continue to drop this week, with trades below 10 cents/gallon after reaching a high north of 18-cents earlier in the month. Softer gasoline prices in New York seems to be driving the slide as the 2 regional refiners who had been down for extended maintenance both return to service. Diesel linespace values continue to hold north of 17-cents/gallon as East Coast stocks are holding at the low end of their seasonal range while Gulf Coast inventories are holding at average levels.

Reversal coming?  Yesterday we saw basis values for San Francisco spot diesel plummet to the lowest levels of the year, but then overnight the Chevron refinery in Richmond was forced to shut several units due to a power outage which could cause those differentials to quickly find a bid if the supplier is forced to become a buyer to replace that output.

Money managers continued to reduce the net length held in crude oil contracts, with both Brent and WTI seeing long liquidation and new short positions added last week. Perhaps most notable from the weekly COT report data is that funds are continuing their counter-seasonal bets on higher gasoline prices. The net length held by large speculators for RBOB is now at its highest level since Labor Day, at a time of year when prices tend to drop due to seasonal demand weakness. 

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Market TalkMonday, Nov 27 2023

After Another Black Friday Selloff Pushed Energy Futures Sharply Lower In Last Week’s Holiday-Shortened Trading

After another Black Friday selloff pushed energy futures sharply lower in last week’s Holiday-shortened trading, we’re seeing a modest bounce this morning. Since spot markets weren’t assessed Thursday or Friday, the net change for prices since Wednesday’s settlement is still down more than 6-cents for gasoline and almost 5-cents for diesel at the moment.

OPEC members are rumored to be nearing a compromise agreement that would allow African producers a higher output quota. Disagreement over that plan was blamed on the cartel delaying its meeting by 4-days last week which contributed to the heavy selling. The bigger problem may come from Russia, who announced plans last week to increase its oil output once its voluntary cut agreement ends now that price cap mechanisms are proving to be ineffective

While an uneasy truce in Gaza held over the weekend, tensions on the Red Sea continued to escalate with the US Navy intervening to stop another hijacking and being rewarded for its efforts by having missiles fired at one of its ships.  

RIN values came under heavy selling pressure Wednesday afternoon following a court overturning the EPA’s ruling to deny small refinery hardship waivers to the RFS. Those exemptions were a big reason we saw RINs drop sharply under the previous administration, and RINs were already on due to the rapid influx of RD supply this year.

More bad news for the food to fuel lobby: the White House is reportedly stalling plans to allow E15 blending year-round after conflicting studies about ethanol’s ability to actually lower carbon emissions, and fuel prices. Spot prices for ethanol in Chicago reached a 2.5 year low just ahead of the holiday.  

Baker Hughes reported the US oil rig count held steady at 500 active rigs last week, while natural gas rigs increased by 3. 

The first of perhaps several refining casualties caused by the rapid increase in new capacity over the past two years was reported last week. Scotland’s only refinery, which has a capacity of 150mb/day is preparing to shutter in 2025.

The CFTC’s commitment of traders report was delayed due to the holiday and will be released this afternoon.

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