Dwindling OPEC Agreement Hopes Reverse Rally

Posted by Kelly Burke on Aug 30, 2016 4:00:34 PM

markets_pic.jpg

August has been all over the place. Crude futures this month were up 23% in less than 3 weeks as of the 28th. We've bounced from an August 10th low of $41.71 to an August 19th a high of $48.52 -  and today we’re in the middle at $46.35.

So what’s going on?

Last week, optimism reigned. Longs were up and shorts were way down across the board on WTI, RBOB and U.S. ULSD. Citigroup and BOA/ML were saying the global glut is diminishing based on the narrowing Brent discount we were seeing. That was reflected in last week’s rally but we saw that rally reverse yesterday as hopes backed off on just how quickly we might see that supply glut fade.

So what caused the overabundance of hope in just how quickly the supply glut could fade?

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: OPEC countries are set to meet September 26-28th in Algiers for “informal talks” in which the Saudis are reportedly “prepared to listen” to the input of the other OPEC nations in regards to agreeing on output caps to curb global oversupply. This drove the market higher on hopes of an agreement propping up pricing longer term, but hopes on any such agreement coming to fruition have begun to drop off.

Déjà vu all over again.

If you recall, the last OPEC meeting had a similarly framed narrative and a similarly bullish impact on the markets a few weeks out from the meeting before falling off, as it became clear that the conference would fail to produce a deal. There was no agreement on output cuts last go around largely because of Saudi insistence that Iran be a full participant in agreeing to output limits, which the newly un-sanctioned Iran obviously refused to agree to.  Given the dynamic there has not changed substantially it’s hard to imagine that a meaningful deal is reached this time either.  

That seems to be the conclusion that traders reached as well just like leading up to the prior meeting. Today saw Crude close out at $46.35, down marginally from Monday’s close but over a dollar down from Friday’s $47.64. (ULSD and RBOB followed suit, dropping -.0151 and -.0186 respectively for August trading)

What’s becoming interesting about the other dynamics involved in the OPEC meetings is Russia realistically needs an agreement sooner rather than later. While they are not in Venezuela style meltdown yet, a huge portion of their revenue depends on oil and the ongoing standoff with the Saudis on over production for market share retention will presumably hit breaking point at some time, as both Russia and Saudi Arabia hemorrhage money.

Meanwhile, it looks like long term the supply situation may correct itself, and largely courtesy of the Russia/Saudi standoff, somewhat ironically. Bloomberg is reporting that oil discoveries have plummeted to lows not seen in over half a century as a result of ongoing price depression that has halted new discoveries by severely curbing investment in drilling and exploration. This is especially notable in the U.S. where exploration is at multi year lows after the crash in prices from 2014 highs.

So although this OPEC meeting is unlikely to produce an agreement to cut supply and stabilize pricing this time, in an odd twist of fate, ultimately the ongoing standoff may push long term pricing up over time regardless of OPEC input.

Stay tuned!

 

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Topics: OPEC, russia, WTI Crude, saudi arabia, oil glut

Below $30! Crude, Stocks Crash on Iranian Supply and Weak Economics

Posted by Kelly Burke on Jan 15, 2016 3:35:54 PM

Black Friday overliad on 100 dollar bills

Yesterday we saw a somewhat unexpected rebound on oil prices and the stock market - but it all came crashing down today. Crude has officially closed out under $30 per barrel - settling at $29.42, the lowest it's been in 12 years. RBOB closed off almost 5 to settle at $1.0212 - dangerously close to the $1 threshold, and ULSD continued its slide down another .0465 to $0.9343.

The US stock market followed suit with commodities - by mid day the Dow & S&P were both down 500 points, with the Nasdaq off 3% as well. 

What's going on?

China's markets plunged another 3+% percent overnight, stoking fears of a continuing global oil glut. Also playing on those fears was today's data from the Federal Reserve indicating US Industrial Production (manufacturing, mining, and utilities) dropped again in December, which is the 3rd month in a row. Both of these indicators are extremely worrisome in terms of demand. 

More importantly however, it's about Iran.

Reports are that "implementation day" - when Iran shows compliance with agreement terms and has their sanctions officially lifted, could be as soon as tommorow. Once sanctions are lifted, Iran is expected to start exporting their Crude storage as soon as possible, which pushed traders to sell, sell, sell today - to the tune of a 5% drop in pricing. It also keeps the outlook on Crude bearish, as the global market can ill afford millions more barrels entering supply, especially in the face of weakening demand from the US & China - the worlds two largest energy consumers. 

"Happy" Friday everyone - here's hoping for better news next week!

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Topics: CRUDE, RBOB, stock market, oil glut, china, $30 barrel, $1

OPEC Holds Firm on Output Levels

Posted by Kelly Burke on Dec 4, 2015 3:45:47 PM

Line charts depicting the stock market scattered on a table

This past week has been a wild one.

Wednesday we saw WTI shed almost $2/barrel (4.6%) to close out under $40 at $39.94/bbl and both ULSD and RBOB shed over 6 cents each (-0641 and -0699, respectively) on the EIA Inventory report, which once again showed unexpected builds.  Crude inventories built 1.2mmb, marking the 10th consecutive week of builds.  

An additional weight on oil and other commodities was the dollar, which surged to a 12 year high after the Fed indicated they were likely to move forward with a rate hike. (Friday's strong jobs report makes that even more likely).

Thursday the reverse situation happened, as investors and traders waited with baited breath on the hopes that OPEC would come to a consensus at Friday's meeting to lower output.

Today however, its official - OPEC did not come to any formal policy change and will not be cutting production or lowering the ceiling. Iran has been vocal and vehement for the past few weeks that they would absolutely refuse any cuts in production just when Western Sanctions are coming down and allowing them to reenter the market. They plan to come online at as much capacity as possible in Tehran, and the Saudi's essentially cited the "complication" of Iran's new ability to ramp up output as the reason today's meeting was fruitless. 

Predictably, oil was down on the announcement, as it effectively seals the deal in terms of all but guaranteeing the oil glut not just continues, but worsens. (Crude settled at $39.97, down from Thursday's $41.08)

The pressure now will be on higher cost producers like the US. However, that's been the case (and the OPEC strategy) to some degree for over a year now and hasn't solved the problem. The real losers in the lack-of-a-deal are the smaller OPEC and non-OPEC oil producing countries who lack the capital reserves of countries like Saudi Arabia - namely Brazil, Venezuela, etc. If oil continues to slide, we could start seeing serious economic impacts and unrest in oil-revenue dependent nations.

Stay Tuned!

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Topics: OPEC, FED rates, Dollar Strengthens, oil glut

The Bears Have It - EIA Report Slashes Tuesday's Gains

Posted by Kelly Burke on Nov 4, 2015 3:22:39 PM

Downwards aiming arrow with the terms WTI, Oil and Brent inside of it

Today's EIA Inventory Report indicated that Crude Inventories were up 2.8 million barrels for the week ending October 30th, and the market reacted accordingly. API had forecast a build as well, so prior to the EIA release we were trending down about 1%, which accelerated to over 3% once the official numbers came out. 


A few interesting notes about the build - it occurred due to a domestic production increase of 48,000 bpd to 9.16 million bpd. This increase happened despite the Baker Hughes announcement that rig counts dropped another 16 to the lowest level since 2010, and despite US imports falling to their lowest weekly level since 1991. (Down to 6.4 million barrels per day, if you're keeping score at home.)

It also happened despite the fact that every single issue that spiked the market yesterday is still very much in play. The Libyan port is still closed under occupation. The Brazilians are still on strike at PetroBras. The Colonial pipeline's Houston facility is still flooded and not allowing any deliveries or originations to occur. (You can get a recap of yesterday here: Monday sinks on Demand, Tuesday Surges on Supply )

And yet here we are, narrowly missing a complete reversal of yesterdays surge across the board. 

Gasoline was projected to show a 1 million barrel drop, but instead dropped 3.3 million barrels - yet RBOB settled down -.0536, not quite erasing yesterday's 7 cent jump but coming close, considering the drop in inventory should in theory have pushed gas further ahead. 

Distillates did the reverse of gasoline stocks - they were projected to drop 1.8 million barrels, but instead dropped 1.3. ULSD closed down .0625 to 1.5035, more than erasing yesterday's jump of just under 6 cents. 

The October Jobs report is likely the next major news for the market, due out Friday. Maybe we will get lucky and get a breather tommorow. One can always hope. 

 

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Topics: RBOB tumbles, CRUDE, EIA Inventories, oil glut, Jobs Report

Two to Contango - Weather & Supply Crush WTI & Nat Gas

Posted by Kelly Burke on Oct 26, 2015 4:49:36 PM

The definition of Contango is displayed

Another day, another price drop.

Both Brent and WTI Crude have shed about 10% of their value over the past two weeks, and those losses continued today.

Today, front month (December) WTI dropped from Friday’s $44.60 to $43.98, while front month (November) ULSD dropped from 1.4544 to 1.4259 (-.0285) and RBOB dropped (-.0157) from 1.3036 to 1.2879.

WTI Crude is continuing to show an ever widening contango, with front month discounts at a 5 month high and still going. 

What’s behind it? Supply, supply, and more supply, with an added kick of above average temperatures for the season and a forecasted lighter winter.

Despite the fact that US rig counts have dropped to their lowest level since 2010, supply just simply has not slowed down enough domestically - US Crude is up 5% in just the past 4 weeks, to the highest level we’ve seen this time of year since the 1930s. And as we’ve covered extensively, OPEC output remains at sustained high levels abroad.

As an aside - we talk a lot about the supply glut in reference to Crude, but it’s becoming a serious issue on refined products and Natural Gas as well. There is fear in Europe about refined products, specifically diesel, hitting “tank tops” – in other words the supply hitting or exceeding maximum storage capacity.

Although it’s not likely tank tops will actually be hit, the fact that the concern exists speaks to the level of over supply we are looking at. (According to Reuters, aforementioned stockpiles of refined products are resulting in diesel and jetfuel cargoes taking longer routes and backing up outside of European ports.)

Natural Gas has been plummeting as well, and today NYMEX Nat Gas saw its largest single day drop since February of 2014. It dropped almost 10% on the winter forecast and supply gluts, the same concerns that have been pummeling Crude. Natural Gas, like WTI, is in contango at present, and there is no real indication it will reverse course any time soon.

To add some gasoline to the fire (pun very much intended) – Goldman Sachs today warned that it expected downward pressure on oil and distillates through Spring 2016 based on supply and weather forecasts, while other analysts proclaimed Natural Gas would be facing the same issue, with concern about capacity max outs and no foreseeable reason it should have the price spike we almost always see as we round into the winter months.

Who wants to bet on how those announcements impact trading tomorrow?

 

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Topics: natural gas, wti, oil glut, contango

Crude Reverses Early Gains on Surprise Inventory Data

Posted by Kelly Burke on Oct 7, 2015 3:57:52 PM

Abstract image of an oil rig, cash and a calculator

Today once again started in positive territory, with Crude up almost 2% and refined products creeping higher, but we saw a quick reversal mid-morning when products dropped into the negative, where they would end up settling at the close. (Crude ended up settling down to $47.81, ULSD was down -.0319 to $1.5796 and Gas dropped -.0462 to $1.390)

What happened?

Early in the day products were up on the EIA announcement that they are projecting demand for Crude would hit its fastest pace in 6 years in 2016, even as US production is expected to decline.  This implied further easing of the so called oil glut, which could keep a stable pressure on prices going up, in theory.  

Additionally, API projected yesterday that Crude stockpiles would show a draw of 1.2mmb.

Consequently, WTI hit a brief intraday high of 49.71, just under the $50 psychological benchmark.

However, gains were pared quickly when the EIA Inventory Report showed a build in Crude stockpiles of 3.1mmb to 461mmb, higher than any analysts had predicted. That puts Crude and petroleum product stockpiles at a high of 1.3 billion barrels. So much for a slow-down of the oil glut, eh?

Another bearish signal is that thus far into hurricane season, we have not seen any major supply delays, or refinery damage/shut downs, which are usually cause for temporary price jumps this time of year.  There is also still the looming question about what happens to global pricing when Iranian exports come back online at full capacity.

Some analysts are cautioning that traders and speculators are taking the proposed Russia/Saudi Arabia meeting too seriously, in that they don’t see them coming together on any type of agreement on raising prices by cutting supply. That would seem to be supported by the recent Saudi price drop for exports. It’s also worth remembering that Russia and Saudi Arabia are diametrically opposed in terms of the war in Syria, which may not bode well for any sort of collaborative action.

Stay Tuned!

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Topics: CRUDE, Syria, russia, WTI Crude, EIA Inventories, saudi arabia, oil glut

Oil Bounces Back Today, But Talking Heads Say "Not for Long"

Posted by Kelly Burke on Aug 10, 2015 3:39:01 PM

Line charts depicting the stock market scattered on a table

Friday saw oil futures tumble again to multi-month lows, with Brent settling at 48.61, and WTI at 43.87 for September. (ULSD closed out at 1.5436, and RBOB at 1.6230 ) on general concerns about the oil glut and dissapointing economic data from China. 

Today however, commodities jumped, presumably on high import data from China and further rumblings from the Fed about an interest hike in September. Brent was up 3% ish to slightly over the $50 benchmark (50.36 for September), and WTI closed up to $44.96. ULSD settled up .0485 to 1.5921 and gas was up .0710 to 1.6940.

However, the analysts and talking heads of the world are cautioning that a sustained rally is unlikely, given that the oil glut concern lingers. Also, part of why prices tumbled so sharply last week (down over 6%) is that more rigs have come back online in the US, which only indicates that high output and growing inventory conditions will continue for the foreseeable future. 

In a nutshell today is being essentially written off as an over optimistic jump off of Chinese import data, just another "dead cat bounce". We should see on Wednesday if they are correct when the inventory reports are released. 

Stay tuned!

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Topics: Brent Crude, oil glut, chinese import levels

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