Energy Market Updates

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Gasoline demand drop

No Quick Fixes or Shortcuts

Not to brag, but I cook a mean steak.  Most hate the process, but enjoy the results.  It’s takes time and patience to get the perfect medium rare.  No quick fixes or shortcuts….  Same can be said about fuel pricing the last 30 days.  Even though diesel pricing is down over $.40 since mid September, it has been a real grind getting here.   The Israeli – Hamas conflict continues to be the flame keeping front month prices elevated.  As concern of this developing into a much larger regional conflict persist.  Domestically, fundamentals have kept pricing in check as Inventories have shown a mixed bag, but the real news is in the demand numbers.  Gasoline demand is down slightly over last week and last year, while distillate demand was down a whopping 8% to last week, yet up 5% to last year.  Trucking tonnage, the blood pressure of the transportation industry and overall economy, was down 4.1% in September over last year. (trucking is ¾ of all transportation modes in the US) this typically signals weaker pricing to follow.  Add in that IEA recently published they see peak Oil demand to hit in 2030, vastly different that OPEC’s estimation of 2045. 

A lot to digest, the takeaway may be that the summer run up in pricing was largely overdone.  Momentum begets momentum and before you know it you are $.50 higher.  Again, with the steep backwardation in the market, opportunities still exist in the spring and summer months to firm up pricing.   This winter may be tough as tight supplies and volatile daily price swings will rule.  Add in, what is expected to be an above average snow season, its important to have the right Supplier in your corner. One that not only has product, but the means to deliver as well.

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Buy the Rumor, Sell the Fact

A very different picture is painted this week after an almost $.18 drop in Diesel Futures posted yesterday, and another $.07 off presently this morning.  Prior to this, it appeared as though we were on a slow progression downward but instead the proverbial bubble burst.  Call it profit taking or a change in sentiment, it is clear that this correction is needed.  Should another heavy down day remain, we could be in for a return of pricing not seen since early May, which is about $.80 lower.  

The market should have seen some support yesterday with OPEC+ announcing they would maintain self-imposed production cuts through the end of November, however the market got an early Halloween scare with demand figures in this weeks Inventory report.  After promoting the narrative of tight supplies for months, most could not look past gasoline demand dropping 7% last week and down a whopping 15% to last year.  Distillates (all diesels) was down 4% last week and over 7% from a year ago.  Buy the rumor, sell the fact.  Diesel futures are down $.30 in the last four sessions and almost $.40 since mid September. 

A very important notion to understand is the persistent backwardation that is staying around longer than your in-laws.  November USLD is priced almost $.15 higher than January.   If it holds, this will prevent suppliers from bringing in excess or uncontracted gallons to the terminals.  In other words, their asset or investment (product), depreciates in value rather than gaining value over time.    As the closer months drop significantly, the outer months typically do not drop as much therefore leveling out the futures strip over time.  So there is some value to look at future pricing even with the high November screen. 

Again, always willing to have a call, in person or virtual meeting, to discuss your specific needs.  In this environment, you can never know too much. Schedule a Call

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EIA Levels Push Gas Lower, Distillates Hang Steady Ahead of IMO Change Questions

shutterstock_146565659

EIA Inventory reports for the week ending March 22 indicate that Crude inventories showed a build, while finished products (Diesel & RBOB) showed draws. 

Reports indicate a 2.8mmb build in the period for Crude, draws on gasoline of 2.9mmb and a smaller draw of 2.1 mmb on distillate inventories. 

We have seen WTI trending toward the $60 benchmark, where it continues to trade today after inventory levels were announced. Gasoline on the other hand, was down over 5 today after the news.

At first blush the drop on gas seems surprising, given the draw down, but production levels are still very high (9.7 million barrels per day) and very much outpacing projected demand, even as the U.S. heads toward "driving season".

Of note among analysts, diesel has remained relatively stable in the face of fluctuating inventory and international headlines, and the thought is that this period of calm is caused by (and will be short lived because of) the IMO Bunkering regulation changes set to take effect in January. Refiners, marketers, and end users are all eyeing potentially huge upcoming shakeups in the market there and the anticipation is putting a damper on major swings or selloffs in the current market. Or that's the prevailing theory, anyways. 

So what is IMO 2020? The short version is that as of January 1, 2020 marine fuels will be subject to a global cap of 0.5% sulfur (the current level is 3.5% in non-ECA/Emission Control Areas). Since this is global, it will impact essentially all refiners and supply point inventory options out there, in addition to the obvious end-user impact. 

(If you want a more in depth version of exactly what IMO 2020 is about and its anticipated impacts, Sea Trade Maritime News has a fantastic explanation here: Seatrade Maritime News: The 2020 IMO Fuel Sulphur Regulation  )

At the close, ULSD closed off $-.0093 to $1.9806 while RBOB shed $-.0602 to close out at $1.8955. WTI closed out at $59.41/bbl, continuing to hover around the $60 benchmark. 

 

Stay Tuned!

 

 

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Retail & Market Prices Drop on Crude Supply & Pricing

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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NYMEX puts on rally hats to end day positive

We truly have moved to a market that is tick to tick.  We all recall the days when a .01 move in the market called for a meeting.  Today, right out of the gate RBOB was up .08 while HEAT limped along slower than Shaq last night and was negative most of the morning.  Early in the session for about 20 minutes, both pits tumbled with HEAT negative almost 4 cents.  Gasoline futures are spiking on concerns of Midwest flooding preventing shipments moving from key areas.  But with overall gasoline demand slipping last week and demand destruction appears to be settling in as retail pump prices hover around the $4 mark, todays jump seems somewhat nonsensical.  Imagine the gray hairs the station owners and gasoline end users have sprouted the last few sessions, from falling 20 cents one day to being up over 25 cents in the last two days!  With Wednesday comes another round of inventory numbers that are expected to show Crude levels build by 1mbls and products to show slight increases.  On another note, one which might have tempered todays gains, the NYMEX raised margin requirements making it more expensive for people to purchase futures, ultimately will have minimal effect on the course of business.  At the close, Crude added $1.33 to $103.88, HEAT found strength towards the close and gained .0394 to $3.0012 and RBOB led the charge jumping .1013 to $3.3797.

heat chart

RBOB CLOSE
                 CLOSE       CHANGE 
  
JUN    33797       +.1013
JUL    32538       +.0894
AUG    31578        +.0776
SEP    30898       +.0662
OCT     29128       +.0610
NOV    28735      +.0605
HEAT CLOSE
          CLOSE    CHANGE
JUN    30012      +.0394
JUL    30145      +.0406
AUG    30280      +.0408
SEP     30437      +.0406
OCT    30590       +.0405
NOV   30746       +.0409
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Futures End Down after Wild Session

NYMEX futures struggled to put together consecutive down days, and similar to the Bruins last night, it was a little tense right up to the end.  Futures opened down over 3 cents in both Pits and fell to as much as over five cents down before clawing all the way back, and actually trading positive briefly with about 40 minutes left in the day.  The days fall can be attributed to yesterdays news of Standard & Poors issuing a negative long term credit rating for the United States.  Highlighting that report was concern over the future of Commodity pricing and its effect on consumers.  Yet many are pointing to signals within the economy that could lead one to believe that we are well into a recovery.  Lets face it, last weeks DOE numbers were an aboration of refinery turns.  And as the pits turned stronger today, it centered around reports that gasoline demand jumped over 3% last week.  But that report is by spendingpulse.  Spendingpulse is a yardstick for usage of credit card customers.  Americans generally charge gasoline as a last resort to cash or debit. Thus the sell off continued.  At the close, front month Crude rose $1.03 on the expiry to $108.15. RBOB fel .0197 to $3.2331 and HEAT fell .0243 to $3.1585.  Keep in mind, we have not seen three consecutive down days since early FEB, and previously in early DEC.

 

heat chart

RBOB CLOSE
                 CLOSE       CHANGE MAY    32331       -.0197
JUN    31993        -.0191
JUL    31722       -.0161
AUG    31477       -.0131
SEP     31204       -.0085
OCT    29689        -.0087
HEAT CLOSE
          CLOSE    CHANGE
MAY    31585       -.0243
JUN    31725       -.0227
JUL    31895        -.0201
AUG    32062        -.0179
SEP    32226       -.0165
OCT    32391        -.0153
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