Energy Market Updates
At first glance of yesterday's inventory report you would assume that a solid up day was in the making. As has been the case, the devil is in the details. While all products showed modest drops, they were largely offset with massive exports, known refinery maintenance and switching to winter grade gas. The largest market mover was the FED maintaining rates but signaling they expect possibly 2 more rate hikes in the coming months. A large sell-off took hold pushing diesel futures down almost $.10 before settling down just under $.05. The profit taking ideology is that if rates get higher, it dampens economic growth thus curbing overall fuel demand, add in that it makes it more expensive for foreign currency buyers of products.
Additionally, truck tonnage was down 2.3% in August, marking the sixth straight month of year over year declines. Many point to last year being a shipping anomaly coming out of COVID, but it is still hard not to take into account the declines. Even though we are seeing a rebound today, expect a choppy downward progression as we close in on the winter months. Speaking of winter….. It’s not too early to start thinking about winter product and the associated costs. Availability of Kero as a blending component appears to be a concern for many. Feel free to reach out to discuss how we can assist and also talk about pricing next year's needs. Schedule a Meeting
The Market giveth and the Market taketh.
After falling over $.50 last week, front month ULSD has risen almost $.50 this week. Gains were primarily on the heels of the Keystone pipeline leak that spewed 14,000 bbls (588,000g) of crude into Northeast Kansas late last week, prompting Operator TC Energy to shut down the entire pipeline. Main note on why this is significant, is that this leg of the pipeline runs to Cushing, Oklahoma which is the primary metric for weekly Inventories. As of this morning, product has since started to flow but still not through the damaged section which may take weeks to repair.
Again, the fear buying of future products has pushed ULSD almost to where we were at the beginning of the month. The spill froze any downside potential in the pits with this week’s builds in inventory yet again. While Crude showed almost a 10mbl increase, expect that to be erased next week with little to no product flowing into Cushing. Distillates gained roughly 2mbl, still well below the 5 year average. Oddly, demand still seems robust, specifically for diesel which again is helping to push prices higher.
We said volatility will remain in the short term as fuel markets continue to search for a comfortable range. I would have to believe (hope) that it is under the $3 handle for the front month. The good news is that it appears Kero is relaxing somewhat, making winter operability cost at least palatable, relatively speaking. Kero has come down by over $1 in the last several sessions.
The "Price Cap" for Russian crude is somewhat confusing as to the effect or outcome it will ultimately have, as Product is very rarely traded on a fixed number, more often traded on formulas or differentials to a benchmark, so again time will tell if there is any real net impact.
As the cold weather starts to move in, again we can not stress enough to have conversations with Suppliers on product blends, operability and availability. Looks like we may be in store for a wild winter.
Hope’s not a four letter word, although, probably not the best strategy in the fuel business.
Two weeks ago we had said that hopefully we see pricing top out as supply appeared to be moving into the Northeast. That looks to be occurring, as cash values have dropped at twice the speed of futures and almost catching up to normal spreads. (see below).
On 11.9.22, cash prices were $1.20 higher than futures, as of today they are $.0150 higher. This means that diesel product is being shipped, getting purchased, and somewhat loosening the supply constraints for some. Thus the reason you have seen your prices fall so dramatically the last few weeks. However, supplies do remain tight as the backwardation persists, limiting some Suppliers from taking product in tank along with an uneasy feeling on demand over the next few weeks.
The other elephant in the room is Kerosene, which is in extremely tight supply throughout the region. A niche product used primarily in the Northeast and Central US for outdoor heating and road fuel winterization is still seeing record high prices as many try to source gallons.
As I have discussed with many of you in the last few months, diesel-kero blends for winter operability purposes will be high relative to years past.
With Crude pricing falling to 10 month lows this week capturing much of the headlines and rumors of an OPEC+ production increase (albeit quickly dismissed) swaying markets somewhat, the real focus should remain on Distillate pricing. Again, the volatility looks to stay in place until the forward months level out and we see how the Russian price cap plays out that is due to take effect on 12.5.22. It was just in late September that ULSD traded roughly $.50 lower than present. Still hope.
As always, the Team at Dennis K. Burke is here to assist and answer any questions you have. Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving.