Is A Collapse Imminent?

Market TalkThursday, Sep 3 2020
Market Talk Updates - Social Header

Just a few days after pushing six month highs, energy futures are hitting multi-month lows this morning, and threatening a technical breakdown that could bring product prices back below one dollar/gallon. A rising dollar, softer equities and concerns for fall demand all taking credit for the early selling. While the drop has been significant – gasoline prices in some markets are down more than 20 cents in a week - we have seen multiple similar moves this summer only to bounce each time technical support gets tested, so it’s still too soon to say a collapse is imminent.

The disruptions to the energy operations along the Gulf Coast from Hurricane Laura are easy to see in the DOE charts below, but you’ll also notice how most operational issues pale in comparison to what we saw from Harvey in 2017, which provides some insight into why the industry had a huge sigh of relief when the storm shifted east.

Oil imports reached their lowest level in 28 years as ships stayed out to sea to ride out the storm, crude oil output dropped by more than 10 percent to its lowest in three years, as Gulf of Mexico platforms were shuttered temporarily and refinery runs dropped by one million barrels per day. This all added up to substantial inventory draws. The fact that most of these operations are already returning to normal within one week after landfall helps explain why the market sold off following the report, as concerns quickly shifted to issues with demand rather than a threat to supply.

The exception to that rule is the refinery output number. Early reports suggest it could be several weeks before the two Lake Charles area facilities operating before the storm might be able to attempt a restart, and with the fall turnaround season about to kick off, we could see more declines in run rates over the next several weeks. 

In addition to the storm-related issues, demand and margins aren’t encouraging a resurgence in refinery runs either. The weekly estimate from the DOE showed total U.S. petroleum demand dropping to a 13 week low, and the flush in product prices this week has crack spreads pushing multi-year lows. A WSJ article this morning suggests that European refiners are most likely to see the next wave of closures and conversions as the industry deals with a glut of refining capacity, while U.S. facilities will benefit from their outlets to central and south America.

Speaking of central America, Hurricane Nana made landfall in Belize overnight, while Omar continues tracking out to sea. There are three more potential systems being tracked by the NHC, one of which has 70 percent odds of further development, making it likely we’ll see Paulette named just in time to hit the peak of the season.

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

TACenergy MarketTalk 090320

News & Views

View All
Market Talk Updates - Social Header
Market TalkFriday, Jun 2 2023

Energy Prices Up Over 2% Across The Board This Morning

Refined product futures traded in an 8-10 cent range yesterday with prompt heating oil settling up ~6 cents and RBOB ending up about flat. Oil prices clawed back some of the losses taken in the first two full trading days of the week, putting the price per barrel for US crude back over the $70 mark. Prices are up just over 2% across the board this morning, signifying confidence after the Senate passed the bipartisan debt ceiling bill last night.

The EIA reported crude oil inventories up 4.5 million barrels last week, aided by above-average imports, weakened demand, and a sizeable increase to their adjustment factor. The Strategic Petroleum Reserve continues to release weekly through June and the 355 million barrels remaining in the SPR is now at a low not seen since September 1983. Exports increased again on the week and continue to run well above last year’s record-setting levels through the front half of the year. Refinery runs and utilization rates have increased to their highest points this year, both sitting just above year-ago rates.

Diesel stocks continue to hover around the low end of the 5-year range set in 2022, reporting a build of about half of what yesterday’s API data showed. Most PADDs saw modest increases last week but all are sitting far below average levels. Distillate imports show 3 weeks of growth trending along the seasonal average line, while 3.7 million barrels leaving the US last week made it the largest increase in exports for the year. Gasoline inventories reported a small decline on the week, also being affected by the largest jump in exports this year, leaving it under the 5-year range for the 11th consecutive week. Demand for both products dwindled last week; however, gas is still comfortably above average despite the drop.

The sentiment surrounding OPEC+’s upcoming meeting is they’re not likely to extend oil supply cuts, despite prices falling early in the week. OPEC+ is responsible for a significant portion of global crude oil production and its policy decisions can have a major impact on prices. Some members of OPEC+ have voluntarily cut production since April due to a waning economic outlook, but the group is not expected to take further action next week.

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

Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkThursday, Jun 1 2023

Prices Are Mixed This Morning As The Potential Halt In U.S. Interest Rate Hikes

Bearish headlines pushed refined products and crude futures down again yesterday. Prompt RBOB closed the month at $2.5599 and HO at $2.2596 with WTI dropping another $1.37 to $68.09 and Brent losing 88 cents. Prices are mixed this morning as the potential halt in U.S. interest rate hikes and the House passing of the US debt ceiling bill balanced the impact of rising inventories and mixed demand signals from China.

The American Petroleum Institute reported crude builds of 5.2 million barrels countering expectations of a draw. Likewise, refined product inventories missed expectations and were also reported to be up last week with gasoline adding 1.891 million barrels and diesel stocks rising 1.849 million barrels. The market briefly attempted a push higher but ultimately settled with losses following the reported supply increases implying weaker than anticipated demand. The EIA will publish its report at 10am this morning.

LyondellBasell announced plans yesterday to delay closing of their Houston refinery, originally scheduled to shut operations by the end of this year, through Q1 2025. The company “remains committed to ceasing operation of its oil refining business” but the 289,000 b/d facility remaining online longer than expected will likely have market watchers adjusting this capacity back into their balance estimates.

Side note: there is still an ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine. Two oil refineries located east of Russia's major oil export terminals were targeted by drone attacks. The Afipsky refinery’s 37,000 b/d crude distillation unit was struck yesterday, igniting a massive fire that was later extinguished while the other facility avoided any damage. The attacks are part of a series of intensified drone strikes on Russian oil pipelines. Refineries in Russia have been frequently targeted by drones since the start of the military operation in Ukraine in February 2022.

Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkThursday, Jun 1 2023

Week 22 - US DOE Inventory Recap