OPEC Tensions and "Break Even" Testing Pause NYMEX Dropoff

Posted by Kelly Burke on Oct 17, 2014 9:08:15 AM

Abstract image of an oil rig, dollars and a calculator

Thursday we saw ULSD settle out to erase most of Wednesdays drop - Wednesday it closed down -.0136 to 2.4586, and Thursday settled out at 2.4703 (+.0117). Gas not only erased Wednesday's 3 cent drop, but rebounded up +.0622 for the day to 2.2109. This morning, ULSD is trending up about a penny/penny and a half, while gas is hanging in the +.005 range, both having backed off earlier jumps.

So what's going on?

EIA stock reports came out Thursday (thanks to Columbus Day) and showed a build in Crude (+8.9 million barrels), a drop in gasoline (-4 million barrels) and distillates were down as well (-1.5 million barrels). CRUDE actually hit a 52 week low for a brief moment Thursday morning prior to the reports' release but ended up settling out at 82.70

With a decent stock report though, why is everything up when we've been on such a streak? Most likely culprit is the increasing tension slash standoff within OPEC. Historically, when prices dropped below a certain benchmark and started impacting the revenue of OPEC nations they could slow production output somewhat to stabilize. 

But now with thee US becoming a major player in global supply, thing have gotten a little awkward. Its possible that normal rampdowns in output will no longer have the huge impacts on price they once did, given that these nations are now not essentially the only players making an impact. 

However, a lot of analysts speculate that the reason OPEC is taking the giant hits to their nations' revenue without stalling production is an attempt to "find the bottom" and let supply run up to test what level American production can maintain in the face of dropping prices, especially given that the projected minimum level would be around $80 in order to still be profitable production from Shale.

Additionally, in comparison to OPEC operations, a lot of American projects are just that - projects - and in the face of falling revenue, its possible some of the higher cost, longer payout projects will stall out. However, given the remarkable jumps in efficiency from fracking to refinining we've seen domestically, it will be interesting to see where that level might actually be.

Given the weakness of the global economy, raising prices may be a tricky game with less return than anticpated as well, given the concurrent drop in demand. Saudi Arabia, who produces about a third of the OPEC output also looks motivated to maintain market share by any means necessary even at a short term loss in revenue. Specifically it appears motivated to maintain market share in the Asian teritorries - which will probably become even more relevant to them over the coming years, especially if the Alberta to St John pipeline project is approved which would open Canada up to export and become yet another global competitor on supply. 


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Topics: CRUDE, OPEC, EIA Inventories, shale

Retail & Market Prices Drop on Crude Supply & Pricing

Posted by Kelly Burke on Oct 8, 2014 1:44:23 PM

Fuel pump filling up a commuter car

EIA weekly petroleum report showed inventory gains across the board.

Analysts had expected much smaller builds in CRUDE than the actuals, and had anticipated drops in both gasoline and distillate inventories - neither of which came to fruition. (Who are these "analysts" anyways - not even CLOSE, guys!)

  • CRUDE: inventories jumped 5 million barrels. (Expectation was a build of 1.9 million barrels)
  • Gasoline: inventories jumped 1.2 million barrels, while the EIA showed a drop in consumption of 1.3%. (Analysts had anticipated a 900K barrel drop)
  • Distillates: inventories were up 400K barrels. Both production and consumption levels dropped for distillates. (Analysts had antipated a 1.2 million barrel drop) 

Retail gasoline prices in the US have been trending downward big time, spurred on by the drop in CRUDE prices, as well as weakening demand. The reported average for last week was 3.41/gal in September which is almost 30 cents below the average price 4 months ago. AAA is reporting that the current average gasoline price is $3.267 - a little over 8 cents a gallon cheaper than this time last year. 

Lower global demand, high supply, and a bleak global economic outlook (we're looking at you Europe) dropped Brent Crude to lows we havent seen in years - September was the first time Brent traded under $100/bbl in 2 years, and last week saw Brent hit $92, close to a 27 month low.

WTI is trading down as well, having broken through several resistance levels, and hit $86.20 after the EIA report hit this morning. (At the moment its -1.53 to 87.32 on the electronics)   

The NYMEX is trending down today again, currently ULSD is down over 3 cents (-.0326 to 2.5747) and RBOB is down over 4. (-.0466 to 2.3217)

Stay Tuned!


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Topics: European Economy, Brent Crude, Gasoline demand drop, CRUDE, WTI Crude, EIA Inventories, retail gasoline

Sino-Russian Gas Deal, Ukrainian Post Election Violence, and Contracting US GDP Numbers - Oh My!

Posted by Kelly Burke on May 30, 2014 2:14:20 PM


Russian and Chinese leadership

(image credit: Wikimedia Commons)

This week the market once again bounced around on conflicting data - likely to do with inventory numbers versus economic growth (actually a lack thereof), demand projections, Ukranian violence, and a whopper of a Nat Gas deal between Russia and China.  So much for a nice quiet 4 day week, hmm?

Internationally, Ukraine saw an explosion of fighting and casulties above and beyond what we have seen thus far in the wake of the Presidential election (which went to Petro Poroshenko, former foreign minister). Poroshenko reportedly stated he would deal with the rebel forces in "hours not months" and vowed Ukraine would refuse to aknowlege Russia's annexation of Crimea. Thursday the 29th saw helicopters shot down, killing 12 Ukrainian soldiers, and over 100 people killed in a second airport assault. Like we've talked about, bad news for Ukraine is bad news for Brent generally, and Thursday was no exception, it shot up over 35 cents on the ICE - but dropped back down today - it looks like it will settle the month out up 1.3% but down around 1% for this week. 

Russia and China signed a $400 Billion (with a B!) 30 year gas supply contract this past week as well. The Moscow newspapers claim the deal is not just about Ukraine (although they admit its a tipping point). Merryl Lynch's analysis is that the deal is a good move politically, but may not be the best business deal going. With the EU market shakier for Russia's Gazprom over Ukraine, and the EU also looking into alternate supply options/relaxing regulations, it may well prove to be a good deal in the long run business wise as well, though. The deal was also somewhat inevitable, given the Chinese demand levels and proximity. It also takes the wind out of Canada's LNG-exportation-to-Asia sails to some degree, or at least gets Russia ten steps ahead in the Asian markets. An unintended consquence for the EU though is that now they are under pressure to actually diversify supply, not just threaten to. Be careful what you wish for, right?

On our side of the pond, the news was more peaceful but not much more positive. The Bureau of Economic Analysis released its revised data on the US GDP for the first quarter of 2014. If you recall from our discussion last week, most people were not thrilled to hear the original number of GDP growth at 0.1% for Q1 - and now, the revised numbers actually show US GDP at -1.0%. Personal income and personal spending levels both barely increased at all (0.3 and 0.2%, respectively; and home sales fell 60% short of estimates. On the other hand, both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq 100 hit all time highs. Go figure.

US Crude inventories were up again - but down again at Cushing, which should have supported (in theory) the current WTI pricing. Thursday saw prices up on the inventory news as traders zeroed in on Cushing levels, versus the overall supply increase. Distillate stocks were down and Gasoline supplies fell by 1.8 million barrels, despite expectations that we would see builds in the 200K barrel increase. This pushed gasoline up during trading yesterday, specifically on July trading, although at the close it crept down to only a 77 point gain. ULSD ended up closing down over a penny (-.0116), and both RBOB and ULSD are down today on demand expectations based on the horrendous GDP revised numbers published this week (more on that later). This number has an across the board impact because the US is the number one consumer of petroleum products, and a slow economy indicates lower demand and therefore lower prices. 

Essentially, it appears that because there are so many different factors at play domestically and abroad, they're sort of cancelling each other out (at least most days) and keeping pricing within the range we've been seeing for a while now. This will probably continue until either the US economy rebounds, the Ukrainian crisis abates, or some other wrench gets thrown into the mix. Stay tuned!

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Topics: CRUDE, RBOB, russia, ukraine,, EIA Inventories, Sino-Russian Gas Deal, Gazprom, Russian Chinese Gas Deal, US GDP

Libya, Labor Participation, & GDP Woes Keep NYMEX Positive Despite Projected Inventory Builds

Posted by Kelly Burke on May 20, 2014 2:26:19 PM

Line charts depicting the stock market scattered on a table

Analysts expect that the EIA report due out tommorow will show US Crude stocks hitting a new record high. So why isn't the market coming down?

For one, levels at Cushing (the NYMEX physical delivery point) have hit multiyear lows since the pipeline to the Gulf came online in January, which has an impact seperate from overall crude levels. WSJ cites some analysts who think Cushing could hit minimum operational levels, and thats keeping some skepticism in the market and supporting the price.

Secondly, international concerns are always a factor, and Europe is dealing with more than a few energy related headaches this week. Brent Crude is hanging in there at over $109, which is largely being blamed on the ongoing issues with Libya. Libyan production has been capped well below 2013 levels, and major oilfields remain closed down despite government promises they would be up and running by now.  Perhaps more of a dire sign for the area though -  France's major oil player in Libya, Total, has cut presence in the country down severely, and Algeria's Sonatrach has evacuuated their employees - both companies did so on security and safety concerns. Not good news for hopes that war torn Libya would be stepping back in as a major supply player anytime soon. 

Russia and Ukraine are still essentially in a standoff as well, with the usual reports of progress being made but none seeming to really materialize. 

On another note, Domestically, like we talked about before, the economic recovery picture is not looking particularly sunny. There is a lot of heated discussion about the "real" jobless numbers and the labor participation rate. At the start of the summer job season, the amount of people under 25 in the work force dropped almost half a million, and the unemployment rate for 16-19 year olds hit the second lowest number ever.  Additionally, the GDP is moving at a crawl, the Bureau of Economic Analysis estimated GDP grew 0.1% for Q1 of 2014 - not a great number in and of itself, but especially painful given that projections put it at a full 1%. Not very confidence inspiring, which tends to lend itself to higher commodities pricing (just ask a gold nut). 



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Topics: Brent Crude, Libya, CRUDE, russia, EIA Inventories

Surprise CRUDE Inventory Drops Catch Analysts Off Guard - but NYMEX Holds on to Week's Losses

Posted by Kelly Burke on Apr 2, 2014 3:01:39 PM

Line charts depicting the stock market scattered on a table

The EIA Inventory data out today showed that US Crude stocks unexpectedly fell 2.38 million barrels last week - if you remember, earlier this week, analysts were expecting roughly that amount of BUILD to be reported. Gulf Coast inventories had been expected to show a huge build but instead dropped by over a million barrels. On the other side, gasoline inventories dropped essentially in line with expectations, falling by a little over 1.5 million barrels. 

So what happened on Crude?

Consensus seems to be the main factor was the Houston shipping lane closure we discussed last week - the interruption likely caused higher draws than anticipated, primarily because it impacted imports to the Gulf during the shutdown, forcing refineries to pull off existing stock. This makes sense, as we saw a much larger reversal in inventory actuals versus expectations in the Gulf Coast region than generally.   

Despite the surprise inventory numbers, NYMEX futures are still trending down today. 

Interestingly, RBOB prices continue to trend downwards (although it pulled in mostly by the close) despite sustained and growing issues with ethanol supply, and a dramatic increase in its cost. Bloomberg reports that ethanol climbed 81% over the quarter, so even though RBOB is dropping on the screen, it's very unlikely consumers will see any real relief at the pump any time soon - at least until the supply and logistics issues spiking the price of ethanol subside.  

At the Close - ULSD settled -0.0212 to 2.8666, RBOB settled -0.0029 to 2.8668, and CRUDE settled out -0.12 to 99.62 

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Topics: EIA, Ethanol, CRUDE, NYMEX, Inventory Draws, Crude draws

Futures Firm After Almost 2 Week Correction

Posted by Mark Pszeniczny on Jan 10, 2014 4:58:00 PM

NYMEX values appeared to find support just above the 2.90 level on front month HO after a long cold stretch.  The Polar Vortex that gripped a large portion of the Country, and plagued us in the Northeast with long terminal lines, appears to be subsiding.  Many of us are getting a well deserved breather as we return to somewhat normalcy.  

The recent correction has shaved off roughly 18 cents on Heat and close to .20 on RBOB.  Bulls returned as new unemployment figures were released showing that while the actual rate was down to 6.7%, the economy failed to add the expected 200k jobs in the last month.  Many point to the loss of December seasonal workers and the fact that more and more Americans have simply stopped looking for a job.  This caused the greenback to fall, thus pushing Commodities higher.  The new talk will ultimately put immediate pressure on new FED Chief Yellen and her stance on any new rate changes.  Strong foreign import data also put supported markets as China was said to have a nearly 14% increase in Crude over the last 30 days.  Look for next week to be a choppy session with HO testing and ultimately bouncing off the 2.90 mark.  


At the Close, Crude added  1.06 to close at 92.72, RBOB closed up .0265 at 2.6691, and heat settled out +.0193 at 2.9407

RBOB Close
                      CLOSE     CHANGE            
FEB   2.6691         +.0265
MAR   2.6797         +.0245
APR    2.8547         +.0217
MAY    2.8511         +.0207
JUN    2.8272         +.0202
             JUL    2.7949         +.0190     
HEAT Close
      CLOSE            CHANGE
FEB   2.9407        +.0193
MAR   2.9234        +.0180
     APR    2.9100        +.0167     
 MAY   2.9019        +.0159 
JUN   2.8968        +.0157
 JUL   2.8948        +.0153



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Topics: Commodities, Chinese Crude Builds, Dollar falls, Jobless numbers, CRUDE, FED rates, Yellen

Renewed Global Concerns Reverse Tuesday's Futures Sell Off

Posted by Mark Pszeniczny on Nov 13, 2013 2:07:00 PM

We have all been in this far too long to get overly excited when the pits fall a few cents - like New England weather, wait and it will change.  

The recent sell off was primarily pinned to the expectation of growing Crude supplies (released this week on Thursday due to the Holiday), a better than expected Jobs report, and the talk of unwinding the government bond buying program.  That all came to a halt this morning as renewed concerns of global strife, specifically Libya, filled the newswires.  

Brent Crude surged early and brought the US markets along for the ride. Still, I have to give weight to some of the technical aspects, as HO has bounced higher again after touching the 2.85 level.  Recall, this has been the much talked about seasonal support level that has yet to be broken for more than a session.   

Heat still remains comfortable trading in the wide range of 2.85 to 3.05, with small breakouts to either side.  One would expect RBOB to get more volatile as global demand expectations have recently been revised higher and the current values appear to be relatively inexpensive.   

At the close, Crude gained .84 to $93.88, RBOB closed up +.0416, and HEAT settled out +.0445


RBOB Close
                      CLOSE     CHANGE            
DEC   2.6280         +.0416
JAN   2.6131         +.0387
FEB    2.6180         +.0359
MAR    2.6304         +.0337
APR    2.8004         +.0323
      MAY   2.7990         +.0344      
HEAT Close
      CLOSE            CHANGE
DEC   2.8977        +.0445
JAN   2.9014        +.0434
     FEB    2.9041        +.0419     
 MAR   2.9024        +.0405 
APR   2.8988        +.0393
 MAY   2.8955        +.0386 

heat chart 2013 november

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Topics: Brent Crude, Jobless numbers, Libya, Market analysis, CRUDE, RBOB

Markets React to Syrian Conflict and Implications of US Intervention

Posted by Mark Pszeniczny on Aug 28, 2013 3:42:00 PM

As news continually breaks on developments on the Syrian conflict and the potential implications of US or other world power intervention in the region, stocks are dropping and commodities are going through the roof.

US Secretary of State John Kerry announced this week that there was “undeniable” evidence that the recent chemical weapons attacks in Syria were perpetrated by the Assad regime. The announcement in tandem with the presence of UN Weapons inspectors being fired upon in the country prompted speculation that the US may intervene with military action. Additionally, the
recent attacks cross the “red line” declaration issued by the Obama administration several months ago regarding chemical weapons.

The threat of US intervention has prompted Global Markets to react heavily to the news. In the US, the Dow fell Tuesday by over 170 to hit a two month low of 14,776.13 and the Nasdaq fell 78.13 points to 3579.44. Stocks took a hit while commodities shot up, notably gold in both the US & Canada. Brent Crude hit a six month high on Tuesday in the wake of the rumors of
military action, and US Crude rose over 3 dollars as well. Oil Prices have risen 15% over the past 3 months on concern over violent civil war in Egypt, and now conflict in Syria is pushing them even higher.

The issue with Syria is complex – Syria itself is not a major exporter. The issue is essentially concern that US intervention in Syria will spark regional unrest as well as create increased tensions with other major world powers, specifically Russia and China. Consensus seems to be that the major issue with intervention in the conflict could interrupt export and production schedules, particularly those in Iraq and Libya, according to cbc.ca.

It’s estimated that about 1% of global oil supply runs through the bay of Iskenderun in Turkey, only a few miles off the Syrian border, and tensions in Syria could threaten this export route, according to Olivier Jakob of Petromatrix in Reuters on Tuesday. Disruption of this supply
route would have a deep impact on European and Asian markets, particularly if tension spreads throughout the Middle East, which produces over 1/3 of Global Oil supply.


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Topics: European Economy, Eygpt, CRUDE, rising gas prices, Syria

NYMEX Futures End Positive for Fifth Straight Session

Posted by Mark Pszeniczny on Aug 15, 2013 4:23:00 PM

All news today was nothing but feed for the Bulls that have been in control of the pits over the last week.  After HO dipped below 2.95 late last week, buying has come back with force.  Today was strong out of the gate and while RBOB was tamed slightly, HO kept right on rolling.  NOAA models now show Tropical Storm Erin churning in the mid Atlantic with an expected path set on Puerto Rico for sometime late next week.  First storm of the season always brings the buyers out.  Data on the economic front showed the US had the lowest unemployment claims in just over six years.  While this is good for the economy, not so good for Future pricing.  Along side that, most now expect the FED to significantly slow down their Bond buying program over the next sixty days as the economy shows signs of improvement.  Finally, the continued and recently heightened unrest in Egypt, has many concerned over the regions safety.  Egypt largely controls the Suez canal which is a vital shipping lane for Crude barges, anything that can remotely affect Crude shipments will push futures higher.  Still optimism remains as RBOB shrugged off the news and was only able to muster a 15 point gain to close at $2.9845, while HO jumped another .0250 to $3.0728 ( the high end of the wide range  we have been in) .  Crude added .48 to $107.33.  I stay optimistic for lower prices coming as the semi mixed close is always a key point to momentum swings.

 Daily Heat Chart
Daily heat chart
RBOB Close
                      CLOSE     CHANGE            
SEP   2.9845         +.0015
OCT  2.8562        +.0068
NOV   2.8118        +.0101
DEC    2.7813      +.0116
JAN     2.7646     + .0117
                  FEB    2.7599     +.0119               
HEAT Close
      CLOSE            CHANGE
SEP  3.0728        +.0250
OCT  3.0795      +.0255
 NOV  3.0823      +.0250   
DEC  3.0808     +.0246
JAN   3.0791    +.0240
FEB  3.0692     +.0243


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Topics: Eygpt, Tropical Storm, CRUDE, FED rates

Futures Move Higher as Stimulus Plan Takes Shape

Posted by Mark Pszeniczny on Sep 10, 2012 3:52:00 PM

While much of todays chatter centered around the wild cash blowout of gasoline on Friday, up some .24 in NY harbor, markets found a way to turn positive ahead of the close. Many are betting that a new round of Quantitative Easing, also known as QE3, will be announced after this weeks FED meeting. This bet was doubled down after Fridays disappointing payroll figures.While the stimulus plans are designed to boost economic activity, Commodity prices are often collateral damage and many agree that we might see higher prices with this round. Keeping the pits in check are the fundamentals which, even besides this weekends short term blowout, the nation is well supplied. Additionally there was a memo sent by the Saudi Oil Minister confirming the oversupply of product as well as the unsubstantiated value of the current marketplace. Look for the remainder of the week to be a wild one. At the Close, Crude finished up .12 to $96.54, HEAT gained .0179 to $3.1668 and RBOB .0044 to $3.0240


Daily Heating Oil Chart

Heat map

OCT 30240 +.0044
NOV 29051 +.0059
DEC 28304 +.0059
JAN 28013 +.0054
FEB 27965 +.0058
MAR 28059 +.0059
OCT 31668 +.0179
NOV 31674 +.0167
DEC 31666 +.0167
JAN 31639 +.0173
FEB 31524 +.0186
MAR 31322 +.0192
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Topics: CRUDE, RBOB, QE3, Basis Blowout, Saudi Oil Minister

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