Markets Around The World Are Seeing Big Swings Over The Past 24 Hours As The Unknowns Of Monetary Policy

Market TalkThursday, Sep 22 2022
Pivotal Week For Price Action

Markets around the world are seeing big swings over the past 24 hours as the unknowns of monetary policy, war strategy and storm paths all converge. It’s not unusual for the day after an FOMC announcement to see big price swings, and today in particular is set up for big moves after the FED made it clear it prefers a recession to inflation, and numerous other banks followed suit. 

ULSD has been the most volatile contract in the energy complex this week, with multiple 10 cents swings in various directions as demand fears and supply fears manage to both grip parts of the global distillate market simultaneously. Adding to the uncertainty this week, Exxon’s refinery in France is facing a strike as employees see more leverage than ever given the weakened state of Europe’s energy supplies. 

2 brothers were killed in the fire at the Husky refinery in Ohio, adding a tragic turn to the supply shortages in the area, which have sent Chicago basis values soaring.  That plant is completely offline, and may stay so for weeks as the investigation continues, further complicating resupply efforts. The Explorer pipeline froze nominations shortly following that fire as shippers raced to find replacement options from other regions, quickly maxing out the pipe’s capacity.  See the PADD 2 inventory charts below for perspective on how unusually low supplies in the Midwest are as a rash of refinery issues, and lack of shipments from the Gulf Coast – who is busy supplying the rest of the Western hemisphere – draw down stocks.  PADD 2 refinery runs did see a 2nd straight large increase, largely due to the BP Whiting plant coming back online after a fire a few weeks ago.

The storm currently known as 98L continues to move towards the Caribbean with 90% odds of development in the next 5 days.  Florida looks like it is still has the highest odds of getting hit by this storm (soon to be named Hermine) although the GEFS model has shifted it further West in the past 24 hours which puts Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana all in the range of potential landing zones. While the odds may still be low, Louisiana has been a hurricane magnet the past two seasons, so those refineries and off-shore facilities will not breathe easy until this system is long gone. Hurricane Fiona meanwhile continues to churn north after battering several islands as a category 3 or 4 storm, and now sets its sites on Atlantic Canada.  The Irving refinery in St. John looks like it will avoid a hit from this storm, while the long-idled and struggling to convert to RD production refinery in Come-By-Chance could still take a hit from this system. 

Refinery production increased again last week, holding near the top end of the seasonal range as plants defer maintenance to try and continue maximizing output during these times of tight supply (and high margins). Compare this year’s refinery runs to 2021 and 2020 which both saw big storm-induced declines, and you’ll get a feeling for why the industry is still holding its breath to make it another month without a direct hit on refinery row.

One item to keep an eye on (if you didn’t have enough already): US ethanol production dropped to its lowest level since the great freeze of 2021 wreaked havoc on fuel producers of all varieties, which pushed ethanol inventories to their lowest levels of the year. Ethanol prices have been pulling back since the railroads narrowly dodged a major strike, so this drop in production could be a short term anomaly tied to maintenance or timing the corn crop, but if not, it could further complicate the refined fuel supply network since gasoline is no good in most cases without 190 proof grain alcohol to go with it.

West Coast (PADD 5) gasoline stocks look like they turned the corner on the charts with a small increase last week, but that did little to stop the squeeze on prompt supplies as San Francisco values shot up to a $1.70/gallon premium to futures and PNW values traded north of $1.40, which puts current values back close to $4/gallon. 

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

Market Talk Udpate 09.22.22

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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.

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

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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