Whipsaw on Crude Prices This Week

Good morning,

I hope this message finds everyone well.  This week has been very interesting for the crude markets.  We experienced a good price jump higher on Tuesday based on news of the strict sanctions Trump is looking to enforce on Iranian crude exports.  In addition, the API Inventory report showed a large crude draw and flat levels for gasoline and distillate.  But then on Wednesday, China announced tariffs on US Crude Oil imports and the EIA reported a much smaller draw in crude supplies coupled with a massive build in gasoline and distillate inventories.  The China news and EIA report, along with the announcement that other countries were not going to play along with Iranian sanctions, caused a 3.2% drop in crude prices, pushing WTI through the support price of $67/barrel.  So for now, we are looking at the $67-70/barrel range for WTI prices.  Crude prices are basically controlled by headlines at the moment, so it’s a very volatile and unpredictable trade at the moment.

Retail prices on gasoline and diesel have eased a bit since last week.  I expect prices to hold throughout the weekend.  Right now summer demand for gasoline in Wisconsin is down compared to last year.  I believe that the intense amount of road construction along with higher prices have dampened travel plans this summer.

Propane prices have started to rise.  Inventory levels across the country are sitting around the same level as last year.  Analysts are worried that intense cold will put pressure on supply.  Unless we make up some ground in inventory levels across the country, the potential for a price break out on propane this winter is very high.  But I want everyone to know that Wisconsin is in great shape for supply crunches.  There have been five new rail terminals along three different railways added in the last two years, including upgrades to current facilities and retail storage capacities.  If you have not filled your tank this summer, please do so.  And if you have not locked in your prices for the winter, I highly recommend that you contract your gallons by the end of August to ensure a good price.

As always, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to give us a call.

Best regards,

Jon Crawford – Pres.

Thank You To Our Customers!

Good afternoon,

I just wanted to take a quick moment and thank everyone who came out to our Customer Appreciation Day on July 27th.  We served over 500 people and had the best weather you could ask for!  I am so happy to celebrate our customers each and every year.  I also wanted to say congrats to Sydney Simonson on winning a pair of Packers tickets in our raffle.  We hope you enjoy the game and you help the Pack bring in a win! 🙂

In market news, crude oil prices dropped almost 10% in July and are starting out down in August.  We are expecting to see retail prices remain around the same since local cost of fuel increased with the expiration of the August contract on the Chicago Mercantile.  I am keeping my eyes on the trade wars, Iran and Russian communications, as well supply point bottlenecks to see where we might go in August.  I am still long on crude prices going into the fall and next spring.

Propane prices are holding steady.  If you have not ordered a summer fill, please do so.  Once summer economics expire in the propane market, I expect to see prices jump 5-10 cents.  I also highly recommend contracting your propane for the upcoming heating season.  I am very bullish on propane prices for the upcoming season due to low inventories and high export volume.

As always, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to give us a call.

Best regards,

Jon Crawford – Pres.

Customer Appreciation Day Celebration- July 27th at 11am

Good afternoon!

I hope this message finds you all well.  Just a quick reminder that Crawford Oil and Propane is having their annual Customer Appreciation Day celebration at the Fort Bp in Portage on July 27th.  The event starts at 11am and includes free lunch, bouncy house, face painting, magic show, specials in store, raffle (grand prize two tickets to Packers game), and more!

Fort Bp is located at 1901 Hwy 33 E in Portage, WI.

Hope to see you all there!

Jon Crawford – Pres.

WTI Under $70/Barrel

Good morning,

It’s been a wild ride this week again for crude oil prices.  This past week we had Secretary of the Treasury announce that waivers will be granted to countries who might need waivers on Iranian crude purchases.  The decision contradicts the hardline stance taken by Trump a month ago when he left the Iran deal.  The news caused prices to tumble.  The EIA announced that crude supplies increased last week, but the news was overshadowed by news that Saudi Arabia and Russia held a quick conference call outside of the OPEC parameters to not increase production as quickly as the market is anticipating.  And then yesterday Saudi Arabia announced that exports were going to drop a bit in August.  All this back and forth is carving out a price around $70/barrel for WTI.  The next floor for WTI is $64/barrel and I’m just not sure we are going to see that happen.  I am still long on crude since I changed my position a month ago.  I believe that we are in a temporary dip.  As earnings come out, all energy companies continue to pull back on investment for exploration.  The potential for crude to really break out in price next year is looking stronger.  The only events that would really push crude down big would be the collapse of a stock market or slowing of a major economy.

Retail prices in gasoline and diesel fuel continue to slowly ease.  I expect prices to hold at current levels and maybe decrease a little, but not much.  If you are planning on taking a trip yet this summer, I would use today’s gasoline price as an average.

Propane prices have started to increase as inventory levels are not building as quickly as we would like going into winter.  Please make sure to get your propane tank filled this summer.  We are at the lowest price of the year.  Also, we highly recommend that you contract for propane next year.  I am very bullish on propane prices for this coming winter.

As always, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to give us a call.

Best regards,

Jon Crawford

Crude Oil Living in Bizarro World

Good morning,

Crude oil started off the week where we left it last week.  All information seemed to be pointing to higher prices.  In addition to supply tightness, Libya announced a pipeline going offline on Monday taking even more crude oil out of the market with no date of return.  And then on Wednesday, the U.S. reported a 12 million barrel draw in crude oil inventory.  I have not seen a number over 10 million barrels in years.  These factors are some of the most bullish news for crude prices in weeks.  Although Saudi Arabia and Russia are reporting to bring more crude oil to market, it will take time.  And then Trump announced that maybe he will offer waivers on Iran imports.  And then Libya “mysteriously” fixed its terrible pipeline problem in one day.  And even further, the U.S./China trade war took a new turn.  Regardless of this additional news, not much changed in the crude oil supply.  In fact, I thought by Wednesday morning, I would be writing that WTI crude prices were going from $75/barrel to $80/barrel.  Instead, WTI fell…yes fell… to almost $70/barrel.  The largest one day drop in years.  Myself and others are scratching our heads.  Refined products fell over 10cents/gallon as well.  I feel like we are living in a Seinfeld “Bizarro World”: down is up, and up is down.  For now, I’m sitting back waiting to see if we can truly unwind prices back to the original support price of WTI at $64/barrel.  My thought is that we will not fall that far, but in “Bizarro World”, your guess is as good as mine!

Refined product cost dropped for both gas and diesel.  I expect to see prices at the pump start to go down a little.  But who knows with these market conditions.  We could take off again higher next.  For now, volatility is the name of the game.

Although crude prices have dropped over 6%, propane prices have not.  I believe that propane has carved out a floor.  Basically, traders are saying with these prices that no matter what happens to crude, prices can’t go below current levels.  If propane drops any further, traders would be better off exporting all propane instead of storing for winter.  Summer fill is in full swing.  We also released next season’s heating contracts.  Please call now and have your tank filled at the lowest price of the year, and lock in your cost for next season.  I am still calling for propane prices to increase this heating season.

As always, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to give us a call.

Best regards,

Jon Crawford – Pres.

Happy 4th of July!

Good morning and Happy 4th of July!

We hope that everyone had a safe and enjoyable 4th of July celebration.  A special thanks to Steve Krueger, Steve Krueger II, and Emma Carpenter for helping in the Pardeeville Parade yesterday.  The day was hot, but we had a great time handing out candy and koozies!

The markets are choppy due to a short week of trading.  I will update more next week.  Please call now for your summer fill on propane and sign up for your 2018-2019 heating contract.  Information is available and being mailed out this week.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to give us a call.

Best regards,

Jon Crawford – Pres.

 

Crude Prices Hit With Triple Whammy

Good afternoon,

Well, as I wrote since the last pull back in crude prices, I’ve stated that some key issues needed to play out in order for us to gain a potential predictable direction for crude prices.  Unfortunately, a triple whammy of events struck this week causing a massive gain in crude prices.  And I can safely say that the prediction for prices is now higher for the remainder of the summer.  OPEC has only decided to add an additional 1M barrels into a market that many believe is undersupplied by as much as 2-2.5M barrels.  The analysis caused crude prices to spike, especially WTI as the action puts more pressure on U.S. crude production.  Then on Tuesday, Trump announced that he would not ease into allowing countries curtailing their Iranian crude purchases starting in November.  He called for “absolute zero” purchases.  The action caused a massive spike in crude prices, more so in WTI due to the additional pressure on U.S. production.  And then today, the EIA inventory report posted a massive draw of over 9M barrels in crude inventory.  The announcement caused crude prices to rally hard once again, with WTI prices closing in on less than a $5/barrel spread to Brent.  WTI has closed in from over an $11 spread to Brent, to now just under $5.  The closing of the gap will greatly affect futures pricing for refined products here in the U.S.  Basically a 10-15 cent/gallon premium has just been added into the market.  I hate to bring bad news, but high energy prices are going to be here for some time unless Russia and Saudi Arabia greatly increase their production capacity.  The U.S. is pretty much at max production capacity and any supply disruption is going to have major upside consequences on market prices.

In local retail news, I would expect to see summer gasoline prices to stay around $2.75/gallon and diesel prices to stay above $3.00/gallon.  Unfortunately with all the events of this week, crude prices will not be able to unwind fast enough to offer relief in prices this summer.

Propane prices are also starting to take off.  We are still at the lowest price of the year and I highly suggest that all customers fill their tanks now.  We also have released our next season’s heating contract pricing.  We suggest that everyone contract their propane for next year given all the supply and geopolitical issues in the market.  Please call the office to schedule your summer fill and lock in your heating contract.

As always, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to give us a call.

Best regards,

Jon Crawford – Pres.

Changes in Behavior

Good morning,

I’m going to keep this short and sweet so you can get back outside and enjoy the spring weather that finally arrived!

Crude prices are continuing to stay at the highest levels since 2014 and WTI is preparing to break through $70/barrel. Gasoline retail prices are now over $2.50/gallon and diesel retail prices are over $3.00/gallon. Historically, these prices mean that customers start to consider changing behaviors. The amount of “free spending” money that has been sucked out of the economy due to these price increases is staggering. Based on the amount of gasoline gallons sold per day (this does not even include diesel fuel), $300,000,000/day additional is now being spent on gasoline compared to when gasoline prices were at $2.00/gallon! The increase in money spent on fuel is going to catch up quickly to consumer spending behaviors. Right now the risk premium is still on for crude. We need about $8/barrel to come off of crude prices to get cost back in line with consumer sentiment. But I don’t see a possibility of that happening until we get through the Iran nuclear deal deadline in the middle of May. So for now, be prepared to spend your extra cash on gasoline.

Propane prices have skyrocketed in the last week due to do increased demand in April and lack of building inventory. I don’t expect to see retail prices go much lower, if at all, over the coming two months. Next year’s contract pricing will be released probably in June. Summer fills are probably going to be very close to today’s prices. More information will continue to be released and updated.

As always, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to give us a call.

Best regards,

Jon Crawford – Pres.
Crawford Oil and Propane

$70 WTI By End of April?

Good morning,

Crude oil prices have been on an absolute run this week. Continuing from the Syria attacks, crude prices continue to find bullish support in geopolitical tensions. Traders are worried that Trump will pull out of the Iran deal and cause 500k barrels of crude to come off the table which would put the market into deficit by end of summer. In addition, physical inventories in the U.S. dropped to four year lows this week. Then after WTI broke through $67/barrel, Saudi Arabia came out and said that they would love to push WTI crude past $70/barrel towards $80/barrel. Seems like no matter what anyone says that can be interpreted as bullish for crude, traders are finding tread to grind prices higher. An interesting fact though is that the U.S. increased production to another record and is now pumping 10.6M barrels/day of crude. We are getting very close to over taking Russia and our increase in production is happening much faster than expected. At these rates, without any change in supply disruptions from the Middle East or Venezuela, the world crude oil market will start to move into surplus inventory building by the end of the year or sooner. In other words, a major correction could be on the horizon towards the end of the year. I just don’t see what has drastically changed in true physical crude fundamentals to cause a $10/barrel spike in prices. But for now, we are holding on tight until the end of the month.

In local news, spreads in gasoline prices are all over the marketplace. The fact is that gasoline and diesel prices have gone up. I expect to see gasoline prices well above $2.49 gallon, and diesel prices above $2.89/gallon.

Propane has steadied out due to the massive increase in demand for April. We are officially experiencing the coldest April on record which is very supportive of propane prices. Like crude oil, we are hanging on tight until the end of the month and then reevaluating. Information on summer fill and next season’s contracts will follow at some point in June.

As always, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to give us a call.

Best regards,

Jon Crawford – Pres.
Crawford Oil and Propane

Syria Premium in WTI

Hello,

As the trade war potential with China was cooling and putting a little floor on WTI around $61/barrel, President Trump tweeted aggressive responses in Syria and taunted Russia. With stability in Syria being very fragile at the moment, the tweets from President Trump caused an immediate $5 premium to be added on to both WTI and Brent, along with a 20 cent per gallon increase in cost of both gasoline and diesel. Until we hear what the U.S. is going to do in Syria, we will hold these numbers. If we decide to not escalate the situation any further, traders will sell the news and back down towards $60 WTI we will go. Regardless, for right not it’s sit tight until maybe the end of the month.

In local news, retail cost of gasoline and diesel both increased near 20 cents/gallon, so I would expect to see retail prices climb.

Propane prices are nearing the lowest of the last six months. However, demand has been very high this April. I would expect to see summer fill prices not start until towards the end of May at this rate. More info to come over the coming weeks.

As always, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to give us a call.

Jon Crawford – Pres.