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Refined Products Are Sliding To Start The Week

Monday, Aug 29 2022
Market Talk

Refined products are sliding to start the week, while crude oil prices are up more than $1/barrel in the early going.

Weaker equity markets following the FED’s Friday reminder that it wasn’t done fighting inflation is getting some credit for the sell-off. In addition, refined products appear to still be taking cues from European energy prices which are seeing a healthy sell-off after Germany reported it was ahead of schedule in filling up its natural gas storage, which could help avoid an electricity crisis this winter. 

The EPA has waived summer gasoline RVP requirements a few weeks ahead of normal for 4 Midwestern states to help deal with the fallout from a fire at the BP refinery outside of Chicago which is the largest plant in the region, and 6th largest in the country. In addition, Michigan’s governor has declared a state of emergency, Chicago basis values jumped on Friday as buyers scrambled to find other options, with the refineries restart timeframe still up in the air. 

Short covering was the theme last week for money managers, who slashed their bets on falling petroleum prices in dramatic fashion, and drove a large increase in net length on most contracts. ULSD was the only one of the big 5 petroleum contracts that saw a decline in net length held by large speculators, even though 5% of the outstanding short positions were covered during the previous week. Open interest in crude and refined product contracts continues to hold at 5-7 year lows, which appears to be a key contributor to the low volume/high volatility daily price swings we’ve become accustomed to.

4 more oil rigs were put to work last week, according to Baker Hughes’ weekly rig count, while natural gas rigs saw a decline of 1. The Texas side of the Permian basin accounted for most of the increase in oil drilling last week, while the Eagle Ford basin saw a decrease of 2 rigs on the week.

The tropics woke up after a long summer nap. The National Hurricane center is tracking 4 different potential storm systems this week. Three of those systems are given low odds of development, but one is given 80% odds of getting a name over the next 5 days. If that storm isn’t named by Wednesday, this would be the first time in 25 years that we’ve gone the entire month of August without a named storm. Despite the slow start, forecasters are still calling for an above-average storm season, which means September is going to get very busy if they’re right. 

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