Energy Market Updates

Posts about:

natural gas

Hurricanes, Inventory & Nord Stream Concerns Keep Diesel Volatile

Volatility continues to have a hold on the diesel market.  In the past week alone, we have dropped over $.30 and subsequently rose $.30 in just four sessions. 

There is always a hurricane premium laid into the market once storms reach the gulf.  Reality is that less than 10% of the Gulf Region Production was pulled offline in the last few days and most are back online at this point.  However, as the storm moves on, your will see a rolling port closure effect as it moves up the close which likely will cause regional increases in the next day or so.  

Inventories showed draws across the board this week with much of the same import- export spreads while some real focus was put on demand figures being stronger.  For diesel much of the increase can be attributed to the fall harvest that typically happens this time of year throughout the country.  Still, it gave traders a reason to buy over the last wo days. 

Concerning news on several “leaks” on the NORAD Stream gas pipeline that feeds much of Europe from Russia, as the issue now appears to deliberate in nature.  This could force shipments of US product overseas for the foreseeable future and keep prices elevated. 

Other bullish tidbits came in the way of Senator Manchin pulling his Fastrack Energy Permit Plan in order to prevent a Government Shutdown.  This was seen as a bright light to many in the Industry a few weeks ago.  Two up days doesn’t necessarily break the trend, but its hard to comprehend when they erase the losses we all were so happy to see. 

 

 

Read More

Spiking Prices & Labor Shortages Complicate Energy Outlook

Lots of interconnected events in Energy News this past week or so – we’ll run through and touch on some of the major items and attempt to keep it (relatively) brief.

Here we go:

US Crude Oil prices hit $80 Monday for the first time in 7 years, largely on the basis of surging demand and simultaneous supply issues for power & gas globally, particularly in China, India and Europe.

Last week we saw Natural Gas hit historic highs of $185 per mwh on the supply crunch, although prices have backed off highs this week upon the announcement from Russia’s Vladimir Putin that Gazprom would increase output to Europe to help ease their supply woes.

Speaking of Putin, he went on record Wednesday that he believes Oil could reach the $100/bbl mark (again). OPEC+ (which includes Russia) has been resistant to calls to up their production increases, choosing instead to stick with the previously agreed upon increases.

The Biden Administration has reportedly been relaying their concerns about rising energy costs to unnamed OPEC+ senior officials, and more publicly has called on oil producing nations to “do more” to up supply in order to ease price increases and global supply issues. So far they have not been successful, largely because longer term economic and demand growth numbers don’t look exceptionally promising, so OPEC+ member nations are unwilling to jump up supply to ease pricing when the longer term demand required to keep pricing reasonably benchmarked does not appear to be there.

Additionally, Reuters is reporting  this afternoon that the White House has been speaking with domestic producers about helping to bring down costs. It’s unclear exactly what they are hoping for on that front, or what may have been discussed specifically.

Gasoline in the US is at a 7 year high (averaging $3.29) and the EIA Short Term Energy Outlook reporting this morning indicated that consumers can also expect to pay substantially more for energy this winter

(you can read that report here: https://www.eia.gov/outlooks/steo/report/WinterFuels.php)

Domestic output has not rebounded to pre pandemic levels, and is well off from 2019 highs. In addition, the surge in natural gas pricing means dual fueled power generation systems are likely to be looking at diesel to offset some of the cost this winter. This is what helped dampen prices on Crude & Diesel today somewhat – Crude demand will exceed earlier expectations if power generation does in fact move toward a more diesel heavy mix than we see in a typical winter…. Theoretically.

One of the factors we will need to see play out however, is that increased diesel demand is all well and good, but the ongoing (and apparently worsening) labor issues in the United States may complicate that option. The driver shortage is impacting delivery times and logistics across the country, nowhere is that more clear than the ports. The Biden Administration just announced the Port in Los Angeles will run 24/7 in order to attempt to catch up with backlogged demand and offload stranded container ships. The problem however, is these are backlogged in the first place because of labor & driver shortages, so it isn’t clear how effectively 24 hour runs will solve the backlog. The news is warning of transportation issues already ahead of the holiday shopping season rush, so the lingering question becomes how well will transportation companies and fleets be able to pivot and meet demands with the pressure of labor shortages on their backs, if in fact they continue. 

At the end of the day, lots of news directly or indirectly impacting the energy markets the last few weeks, most of it less than optimistic. However, its worth remembering that we’ve seen supply crunches, or demand outlook changes, or OPEC pivots, or US Presidents’ remarks rile up the markets and send the news analysts into a tailspin, only to resolve themselves in the short term a million times. As always, it ain’t over til it’s over, and we will have to see the longer-term implications of the multiple competing factors currently at play.

Stay Tuned!

shutterstock_146565659

 

Read More

Today's Takeaways from the EIA Short Term Energy Outlook

MW-EK746_oil_pu_ZG_20160420135646

The US Energy Information Association - EIA - is out today with the Short Term Energy Outlook report with projections for 2019 & 2020.

Here are what I think are the major takeaways:

  • 2019 Price forecast for Crude oil - $61/bbl Brent, $53-57/bbl WTI. The Brent average for 2018 was $71/bbl, so we are expecting to continue to downward overall trend in pricing. 
  • 2019 Projected retail gas price - $2.47 (Down from 2018 average of $2.73) 
  • US Crude Production hit a high in 2018 - it is expected to continue to accelerate from the current level through 2019 & 2020. Over the next 2 years, experts expect an increase of over 1.5 million barrels per day. 
  • US Importing of crude & refined products is expected to continue to decline. Although we temporarily saw the US become a net exporter in 2018, the actual average per day imported was around 2 million barrels. That's expected to decline to 1mmb/d for 2019 and a shocking 0.1 mmb/d per day in 2020. (You read that right - .01, amazing)
  • US (Dry) Natural Gas production is expected to jump from 83 bcf per day in 2018 to 90 in 2019. 
  • Global Inventories are expected to continue to increase.  
  • On the clean energy front, coal's role in electrical production continues to decline over the next 2 years. Hydropower's share of generation is projected to remain stable. Wind power electrical generation is expected to outpace hydropower for the first time ever in 2019.
  • Carbon emissions are projected to decline 1.2% in 2019 as well, and a little under 1% for 2020 as it stands now. 

 

Long story short - expect more production, more inventory, lower prices, continued progress and growth on cleaner energy and a decline in carbon emissions - all at the same time. Happy 2019!  

 

Read More

EIA Long Term Projections Dampen Inventory Effects

markets_pic.jpg

 

WTI was in the red today ahead of the EIA inventory report.

API projections were that Crude would show builds of 3.1mmb - of note on this is API was an outlier of sorts, Platts forecasted draws of 400K barrels ahead of the official reporting.

Internationally, IEA Forecasts for global oil demand growth remained at 1.6m bpd, so flat demand growth amid the continued oversupply that doesnt seem to have much of an end in sight, long term picture wise. 

Anyhow, the official EIA report showed a draw down in Crude of 2.8mmb for the week ending 10/6. Gasoline was up 2.5mmb and distillates were down 1.5mmb. Gasoline had been projected to be down 1.4mmb, so the drop off we saw on gasoline today makes sense given the actuals. 

Side note - the EIA Report showed builds in Nat Gas of 87 billion cubic feet, right in line with Platts projections. The market was essentially unchanged on the builds, presumably because it makes sense there would be a temporary bump in inventories given temperatures havent dropped off, so demand should be low.Usually in New England we are well into the battle to keep the heat off til November 1 by now - this year not so much. I still have my air conditioner in the window.  

Gulf Refineries are back online and at capacity after temporary shut downs for Hurricane Nate, which probably is a factor in pushing pricing down as well in the face of flat demand.

In addition to the U.S. being back fully functional, EIA forecasts put U.S. domestic crude production at 9.9mmb per day for 2018 which would be the highest on average in U.S. history. Continued domestic production is seen as being a factor that will offset moves by OPEC or other nations to push a pricing rally. Theoretically, a rally cannot be sustained long term globally if the U.S. keeps production levels rising. We'll have to wait and see on that. 

The official numbers we closed out at this afternoon were: ULSD 1.7655 (-.0206), Gas 1.5832 (-.0260) and Crude landed right around the benchmark at $50.60

Thats all for today!

 

 

Read More

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

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?

 

Read More

EIA Projections for 2015 & 2016 Released Today

Line charts depicting the stock market scattered on a table

The EIA released its Short Term Energy Outlook today with its projections for both Crude prices and US Crude Oil production through 2016. It also projects where we will be on retail gasoline, natural gas storage, and electricity for 2015 & 2016.

In a nutshell, the outlook is as follows:

  • Brent is expected to average $61/bbl for 2015 and $67/bbl in 2016. The prior projected price for Brent in 2016 was $70/bbl
  • WTI is also forecast to drop about $3 dollars from the prior projection level for 2016. It forecasts WTI for 2015 to be up about a dollar higher than prior projections (up to $55.35/bbl)
  • Crude production is expected to dwindle slightly through early 2016, but the total projected volumes were revised up slightly - the new projected numbers are 9.4mmbpd in 2015 and 9.3mmbpd in 2016
  • Natural gas injections are expected to continue to climbing over their historic highs through 2016.
  • Retail gasoline is expected to decline slightly through the end of the year, backing off its current yearly high. 
  • Additionally, for consumers, the EIA is projecting an almost 5% increase in electricity bills for this summer season.

Other mentions of note, Brent saw its highest monthly average of 2015 in May, a $5 jump over its April average price. Retail gasoline also hit its high for the year in May. All of this despite inventory builds and OPEC production levels remaining at highs. 

The EIA Inventory Report publishes tommorow morning, we'll have to see how that impacts the NYMEX. Hopefully its an easier day than today, where we saw ULSD jump up .0631 to settle at 1.9179, and RBOB jumped .0696 to 2.0771 at the close. 

Stay tuned!

 

Read More

Inventories and Saudi Market Moves Continue to Push Oil Prices Down

Line charts depicting the stock market scattered on a table

Oil continued downward today on the back of the EIA inventory report for last week that indicated Crude stockpiles were up 9mmbl to a record high of about 407mmbbls. At the close, Crude dropped below $45/bbl, -1.78 to 44.45. ULSD and RBOB closed lower as well, ULSD settling down .0310 to 1.6318, and RBOB settled down .0051 to 1.345.

In addition to the inventory report, as we mentioned, the new Saudi leader has indicated the largest OPEC producer will continue on its track to hit production goals set. Both of these factors mean traders are still concerned with longterm over supply, which is continuing to drive down prices.

The Saudi stock market shot up today as well on rumors of relaxing restrictions on foreigners trading that market. This ties back to the oil oversupply, in that most are crediting the Saudi's potential move of opening the market up as a way to raise revenue and stimulate the economy in the non-energy sectors, which indicates further that the current oversupply will be a long term situation.

In other news, the House today passed a bill to expedite the process for permitting LNG exports. With the increase in US Nat Gas production (the US is currently the worlds top producer), the thought is exporting would not only be economically beneficial for the US but exporting to Europe could reduce the essential monopoly Russia has on natural gas supply in those nations. 

At the same time that passed the House, a Keystone bill continued to languish in the Senate when the attempt to pass a procedural motion to push the vote failed Monday. One of the ammendments to the current bill is a proposal to eliminate the ethanol mandate portion of the RFS - this will be an important one to watch, certainly.

Stay tuned!

Read More

"Polar Vortex" saw Nat Gas hit Record Highs

Natural gas hit $5/mmBTU on the NYMEX for the first time in over 3 years last week, over concern about supply and a increase in demand due to to continuing frigid temperatures throughout the country. As of Jan 30, prices have backed off some but the underlying supply issues behind the spike may still play a relevant role in Nat Gas volatility going forward. 

The spike involved inventory reports showing Nat Gas storage 13% below the 5 year average which raised some supply concerns. Additionally, production can be affected by extreme cold by what are referred to as "freeze offs" - pipes become constricted from frozen liquid, diminishing their output capacity. Analysts speculated that if the cold extends well into February, we may not see the anticipated price corrections as continually high demand will push prices up further. Again, prices have backed off a little bit, but with another cold snap we could be having deja vu on the issue.

Natural Gas has been touted as a cheaper, more efficient way to heat than using heating oil (the EIA estimates 50% of Americans use Nat Gas as their primary heating source, compared to roughly 6% on heating oil, the majority of which are in the North East). A major selling point when heat prices skyrocketed was that Natural Gas prices were less volatile - but as Natural Gas conversions to homes and buildings happen left and right, and Nat Gas spikes on the NYMEX is that really true anymore?

Looking at prices for Nat Gas versus Heat isn't apples to apples given the way each is measured, but if you convert the cost for Natural Gas versus Heating Oil per therm you can get an idea of the comparison.  

You get about 35% more BTUs out of oil, so basically if Nat Gas ends up landing at a spot where its not at least 40% cheaper than oil, the price advantage breaks down. Additionally, thats product cost alone, not factoring utility fees and the like. 

Currently Natural Gas still strongly holds the price advantage, but without serious pipeline and transport fixes, supply crunches will likely continue - particularly in the Northeast where spot prices are incredibly higher than the national average. It will be interesting to see how prices settle out (or not) over the coming months.

 

Read More

Subscribe to Email Updates