A New Read On Inflation, That Continues To Hold Near 40 Year Highs Sparked A Wave Of Heavy Selling Pressure

Market TalkThursday, Feb 10 2022
Pivotal Week For Price Action

Energy markets were trading higher for a 2nd day, moving the complex further away the technical support that threatened an end to the 2 month rally on Monday. 

Some bullish fundamental data from the weekly DOE report and OPEC’s monthly report seemed to be encouraging buyers to continue to step in after the big selloff earlier in the week

A new read on inflation, that continues to hold near 40 year highs looks like it sparked a wave of heavy selling pressure into the complex shortly after 8am central, knocking refined products 3-4 cents below their overnight highs, which should make for some volatile action to end the week.

OPEC increased its global demand estimates for the year, and lowered its supply estimates as the end of Omicron and a tick up in industrial activity are expected to drive consumption while supply networks will need longer to sort through their logistical bottlenecks. The cartel’s oil production continued to increase, but at a slower pace than had been forecast as declines in Venezuela, Libya and Iraq offset the increases from Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and the UAE.

Cause & Effect: While the weekly moves in the DOE report weren’t particularly notable, the historical perspective makes a strong argument for the strong prices we’re seeing in several markets. 

US Crude oil inventories reached a 3.5 year low last week, and production continues to be slow to return, both of which seem to be aiding the move back above $90 for WTI this morning. 

Gasoline inventories made their first decline in 6 weeks as demand surged ahead of the winter storm. If in fact gasoline stocks are making the turn from winter build to spring drawdown, they’re doing so from a much lower level than the past few years, and with refining capacity much lower than it was pre COVID shutdowns, the early draw puts the supply network at risk of more challenges as we approach the driving season. 

Want to see why Midwestern diesel prices have been trading 20 cents or more below their coastal counterparts? Take a look at the diesel inventory charts below where PADD 2 is the only region in the country with stocks that aren’t below their 5-year seasonal range. Midwest refiners are contributing to the excess, with run rates well above their seasonal norms, and 10% above last year’s rates. 

This coming week marks the 1 year anniversary since the biggest disruption in refinery runs on record, and while we did see a handful of refinery shutdowns from last week’s storm, the impact will pale in comparison to the dramatic drops you can see on the refinery run charts below.

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

Market Talk Update 02.10.22

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Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkFriday, May 17 2024

The Recovery Rally In Energy Markets Continues For A 3rd Day

The recovery rally in energy markets continues for a 3rd day with refined product futures both up more than a dime off of the multi-month lows we saw Wednesday morning. The DJIA broke 40,000 for the first time ever Thursday, and while it pulled back yesterday, US equity futures are suggesting the market will open north of that mark this morning, adding to the sends of optimism in the market.

Despite the bounce in the back half of the week, the weekly charts for both RBOB and ULSD are still painting a bearish outlook with a lower high and lower low set this week unless the early rally this morning can pick up steam in the afternoon. It does seem like the cycle of liquidation from hedge funds has ended however, so it would appear to be less likely that we’ll see another test of technical support near term after this bounce.

Ukraine hit another Russian refinery with a drone strike overnight, sparking a fire at Rosneft’s 240mb/day Tuapse facility on the black sea. That plant was one of the first to be struck by Ukrainian drones back in January and had just completed repairs from that strike in April. The attack was just one part of the largest drone attack to date on Russian energy infrastructure overnight, with more than 100 drones targeting power plants, fuel terminals and two different ports on the Black Sea. I guess that means Ukraine continues to politely ignore the White House request to stop blowing up energy infrastructure in Russia.

Elsewhere in the world where lots of things are being blown up: Several reports of a drone attack in Israel’s largest refining complex (just under 200kbd) made the rounds Thursday, although it remains unclear how much of that is propaganda by the attackers and if any impact was made on production.

The LA market had 2 different refinery upsets Thursday. Marathon reported an upset at the Carson section of its Los Angeles refinery in the morning (the Carson facility was combined with the Wilmington refinery in 2019 and now reports as a single unit to the state, but separately to the AQMD) and Chevron noted a “planned” flaring event Thursday afternoon. Diesel basis values in the region jumped 6 cents during the day. Chicago diesel basis also staged a recovery rally after differentials dropped past a 30 cent discount to futures earlier in the week, pushing wholesale values briefly below $2.10/gallon.

So far there haven’t been any reports of refinery disruptions from the severe weather than swept across the Houston area Thursday. Valero did report a weather-related upset at its Mckee refinery in the TX panhandle, although it appears they avoided having to take any units offline due to that event.

The Panama Canal Authority announced it was increasing its daily ship transit level to 31 from 24 as water levels in the region have recovered following more than a year of restrictions. That’s still lower than the 39 ships/day rate at the peak in 2021, but far better than the low of 18 ships per day that choked transit last year.

Click here to download a PDF of today's TACenergy Market Talk.

Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkThursday, May 16 2024

Energy Prices Found A Temporary Floor After Hitting New Multi-Month Lows Wednesday

Energy prices found a temporary floor after hitting new multi-month lows Wednesday morning as a rally to record highs in US equity markets and a modestly bullish DOE report both seemed to encourage buyers to step back into the ring.

RBOB and ULSD futures both bounced more than 6 cents off of their morning lows, following a CPI report that eased inflation fears and boosted hopes for the stock market’s obsession of the FED cutting interest rates. Even though the correlation between energy prices and equities and currencies has been weak lately, the spillover effect on the bidding was clear from the timing of the moves Wednesday.

The DOE’s weekly report seemed to add to the optimism seen in equity markets as healthy increases in the government’s demand estimates kept product inventories from building despite increased refinery runs.

PADD 3 diesel stocks dropped after large increases in each of the past 3 weeks pushed inventories from the low end of their seasonal range to average levels. PADD 2 inventories remain well above average which helps explain the slump in mid-continent basis values over the past week. Diesel demand showed a nice recovery on the week and would actually be above the 5 year average if the 5% or so of US consumption that’s transitioned to RD was included in these figures.

Gasoline inventories are following typical seasonal patterns except on the West Coast where a surge in imports helped inventories recover for a 3rd straight week following April’s big basis rally.

Refiners for the most part are also following the seasonal script, ramping up output as we approach the peak driving demand season which unofficially kicks off in 10 days. PADD 2 refiners didn’t seem to be learning any lessons from last year’s basis collapse and rapidly increased run rates last week, which is another contributor to the weakness in midwestern cash markets. One difference this year for PADD 2 refiners is the new Transmountain pipeline system has eroded some of their buying advantage for Canadian crude grades, although those spreads so far haven’t shrunk as much as some had feared.

Meanwhile, wildfires are threatening Canada’s largest oil sands hub Ft. McMurray Alberta, and more than 6,000 people have been forced to evacuate the area. So far no production disruptions have been reported, but you may recall that fires in this region shut in more than 1 million barrels/day of production in 2016, which helped oil prices recover from their slump below $30/barrel.

California’s Air Resources Board announced it was indefinitely delaying its latest California Carbon Allowance (CCA) auction – in the middle of the auction - due to technical difficulties, with no word yet from the agency when bidders’ security payments will be returned, which is pretty much a nice microcosm for the entire Cap & Trade program those credits enable.

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

Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkWednesday, May 15 2024

Week 19 - US DOE Inventory Recap