Energy Markets Are Facing A Wave Of Selling To Start May After A Wild Finish To April Trading

Market TalkMonday, May 2 2022
Pivotal Week For Price Action

Energy markets are facing a wave of selling to start May after a wild finish to April trading. Equity markets around the world have been facing heavy selling pressure as expectations for a global economic slowdown increase, which seems to be giving a risk-off feel to all sorts of assets to start the new month. 

ULSD futures stole the show again last week, with the expiring May contract breaking $5 for the first time ever on Thursday, then rallying all the way to $5.85 on Friday before crumbling to $4.40 before the close. The June contract is hovering around the $4 mark, down around 4 cents on the day, and while the 32 cents of backwardation to July would have set records in year’s past, it seems quaint compared to what we just went through.

Money managers continue to make only minimal changes in their NYMEX energy holdings and open interest for refined products remains near multi year lows as some contracts, HO in particular, are simply too hot to handle for many these days.

Baker Hughes reported a net increase of 3 oil rigs drilling in the US last week with New Mexico and Louisiana both adding a pair, while Texas dropped 1 on the week. While the rig count continues its slow and steady increase, at this pace it will take until the end of the year to reach pre-pandemic drilling levels. 

California’s LCFS credits tumbled to a multi-year low on Friday after the state’s Air Resource Board reported the largest ever quarterly surplus in credits. Large increases in Renewable Diesel and electricity production were the biggest factors during Q4 of 2021, while biodiesel and bio-methane both saw decreases. The drop in LCFS credit values from $150 to start the year to $107 now saves a consumer of gasoline and diesel about a nickel/gallon, but costs producers of a renewable product with a CI of 30 about 35 cents/gallon, which may be enough to encourage incremental barrels to go to Europe instead of California. 

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Market Talk Update 05.02.22

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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.

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Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkWednesday, Jul 17 2024

Week 28 - US DOE Inventory Recap