Trade Teeter Totter Continues To Roil Markets

Market TalkMonday, Aug 26 2019
Energy Complex Trading Lower on OPEC news today

The trade teeter totter continues to roil markets with a new round of tariffs announced Friday morning sending energy and equity markets sharply lower, only to see a recovery rally this morning following reports that the US and China were returning to the negotiating table.

Fake News? After the overnight tweet about China wanting to make a deal sent equity markets sharply higher, and helped refined products turn 2 cent losses into penny gains, numerous other notes have surfaced suggesting that there has been no change in the official Chinese stance, and the phone calls may not have happened at all.

Keep an eye on corn and ethanol prices today after the US announced a new trade deal with Japan had been agreed to in principal, which includes a large increase in US corn exports. Ethanol & its RINs had already staged a nice recovery rally last week, and this latest bit of good news may help that upward momentum continue.

Iran claims it has sold the roughly 2 million barrels of oil onboard its tanker that had been held for weeks in Gibraltar, a move seen as trying to circumvent US intervention. Still no word on the British tanker that was seized by Iran in retaliation, although reports last week suggest it may also be released soon. Meanwhile, Israel attacked Iranian-linked forces in 3 different countries over the weekend, a stark reminder that the tensions in the region extend well beyond shipping lanes.

Tropical Storm Dorian formed over the weekend, and is on a path that could bring it to Florida next weekend. While models do suggest this storm may become a hurricane as it nears Puerto Rico, current forecasts suggest the storm will weaken due to dry air and wind shear, and may dissipate before reaching the US Coast. The other storm system known for now as 98L is still given 80% odds of developing this week, but is tracking off the US East coast and doesn’t currently appear to be a threat to land. Speaking of fake news: The US President is denying claims he suggested the country consider using nuclear bombs to stop hurricanes.

16 oil rigs were taken off-line last week, according to Baker Hughes’ weekly rig count, which brings the US total to a new 18 month low. The Permian basin led the decrease again, with 7 fewer rigs (a 1.5% decline in active rigs for that basin), while the DJ Niobrara basin in Colorado laid down 5 rigs, which amounts to a 16% reduction in just 1 week.

Money managers continue to seem uninterested in energy contracts, making small reductions in Brent and RBOB net length last week, while WTI and ULSD both saw small increases.

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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.

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Pivotal Week For Price Action
Market TalkWednesday, Jul 17 2024

Week 28 - US DOE Inventory Recap