Attack in Saudi Arabia

Good morning,

What….a…..week.  Over last weekend, one of the biggest fears in the oil industry came true.  A successful attack was made on the world’s largest oil refinery.  The refinery is also the bottleneck for exports out of Saudi Arabia.  Blame given to either Yemen rebels and Iran went back and forth.  The US condemned Iran.  Iran went ballistic on hearing the claim and threatened US bases in the area.  Trump responded with “we are locked and loaded”.  Saudi Arabia said they will retaliate as well.  Over 5% of the world’s oil supply was in jeopardy.  Crude spiked over 11% and gasoline and diesel prices were up over 15 cents per gallon.  The Middle East geopolitical risk factors were put on full display and traders were reminded of the powder keg that exists in the Middle East……. Then the world stopped and took a birds eye view…. The rest of the oil producing countries would be able to make up the difference.  The world economies potentially are slowing, lowering the impact of supply loss.  And the damage looks to be fixed in a month after thorough inspections on Monday and Tuesday.  By the end of the week, crude only closed up 7%!!!  That is absolutely insane!  In years past, this would have put $15-20/barrel on crude within two weeks.  Instead, crude closed up only about $3.50 for the week!  The truth is that Saudi Arabia is no longer the main controller of crude.  The US and Russia are main players and supply tensions are much easier to handle in our current environment.  In addition, this week shows the general fear of trade wars and slowing economies.  Not even a bomb on the world’s largest oil refinery was able to trigger a major breakout in crude prices!  What a strange new environment we live in!

In local news, gasoline prices at the pumps will rise a bit, but now much.  Gasoline supply in our market is strong and cost has calmed down.  Now diesel is a different story.  Our Chicago market cost has been 15-25 cents under our neighbors in Group supply.  The differentials disappeared this week and diesel cost has risen almost 30 cents per gallon!  I expect you will see diesel prices at the pump rise in the coming weeks.  Plus, as harvest starts, supply disruptions become a possibility.

Propane prices are slowly rising and will kick in to winter differentials at the end of the month.  Although current board prices are under contracts prices, you always have to remember that the contract price is an insurance policy against rising prices and is based on the average cost potential for the year.  For those of you who contracted, we have many months to go before winter is over!

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

Best regards,

Jon Crawford

Roller Coaster Repeat

Good morning!

Crude prices pressed “repeat” again this week with supply and economic news driving the volatility.  We started the week off with Brexit drama, Iraq announcing that they pumped more oil than they should have, and Iran saying they will breach all parts of the nuclear deal.  Prices dropped hard.  Then OPEC comes out after a new Saudi Oil Minister was named saying that they will do whatever is necessary to keep prices high leading into the Aramco IPO.  Iraq followed saying they will behave and do better on cuts moving forward.  Even Russia said they would work with the US on crude prices which is unheard of!  The news cause prices to spike higher.  Then on Wednesday, inventory numbers on crude levels displayed large draws coupled with strong economic data in the US causing prices to spike even higher.  But then in the afternoon, Trump fired John Bolton, the biggest Hawk on Iran, and said he would consider waivers on Iranian crude exports to get them to the table for negotiation.  Crude prices turned and fell off a cliff.  Then on Thursday the IEA announced that world supply would probably go into major surplus in 2020, causing prices to continue the fall.  And finally, today economic data on the US was strong and US/China trade relations showed movement to the positive with each country giving in a bit.  The US will not enforce new trade tariffs, and China will lift the agricultural purchasing tariffs and buy soybeans.  The news gave support to crude prices and stopped the fall.  So WTI crude price ended where it started at about $55/barrel.  What a ride the past weeks have been for crude prices and I don’t see it stopping anytime soon.

Retail prices on gasoline continue to stay very low.  Prices on regular gasoline are ranging between $2.34-2.44/gallon based on major price differentials currently between suppliers.  Diesel prices are also remaining very stable going into harvest season.

Propane prices are slowly starting to creep up, but nothing too scary.  Propane is trading based on crude movement.  We are still at historically low prices of propane with historically high volumes of inventory.  We do not expect to see prices rising until October 1st when winter tariffs kick in and harvest demand starts to take shape.  If you have not contracted your volume for the heating season, you can still do so.  Please call our office to have your tank filled and we can prepare a contract for you.

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

Best regards,

Jon Crawford

Roller Coaster Ride

Good afternoon!

I hope everyone had a wonderful and safe Labor Day weekend.  Crude oil prices went on a roller coaster following the long weekend.  The week started out with tumble as China announced retaliation tariffs along with economic pressures starting to creep into the US markets and Chinese data.  But then a day later, China and the US announced a meeting and everything turned around!  In addition, the Hurricane Dorian managed to miss the Gulf so no oil production will be impacted here in the US.  But then, the big rally was dampened by the release of info that OPEC, particularly Russia, is not holding to compliance cuts.  As prices started to relax, Yemen announced that they killed 30 Saudi’s in retaliation strikes today which caused crude to soar higher, coupled with large announced draws in US inventory.  In addition, the US payroll data was fantastic and China revised their production data showing no contraction.  But by the end of the day, crude oil prices finished flat with world economics and potential over supply still in play.  What a roller coaster and a head scratcher!  Crude has been trading with high volatility in a narrow $5/barrel range.  This tells me that crude is ripe for a break out in one direction.  Which direction is TBD!  And by TBD, that means what news stores are discussed for the day! 🙂

In local retail news, gasoline prices have fallen below $2.49/gallon and were are five year lows for Labor Day.  The lower prices were a nice relief on everyone who was traveling.  Diesel prices continue to fall as Chicago economics continue to favor our market over the neighboring Group.  However, I don’t expect to see diesel prices go any lower as refinery maintenance finishes and harvest season approaches.

Propane prices continue to remain low, low, low.  The national inventory showed another large build and we are well on our way to breaking an inventory supply record this year.  If there is no major corn drying demand event, early cold, or nasty winter, I expect propane prices to remain low all winter.  Now next year will be a different story as additional exporting hubs and pipelines will be in full operation.  So for now, enjoy the lower prices of this season!  If you have not filled your tank to start the season, please do so!

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

Best regards,

Jon Crawford – Pres.

Happy Labor Day!

Greetings!

Instead of a weekly update, I would instead like to just wish everyone safe travels and an enjoyable Labor Day weekend!  The prices at the pump are at three year lows so I’m sure many will be on the road.  I hope everyone had a great summer and is ready for the school season to start!  I will be back with an update next week.

Thank you again for your business and have an awesome long weekend!

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

Best regards,

Jon Crawford – Pres.

Trade War and Recession Fears Grow

Good afternoon,

WTI Crude prices continue to trade in their narrow range of about $53-57/barrel.  On the supply side, with the current OPEC cuts in place, the Venezuela shut down, and the US slowly shutting down rigs, the market is actually tighter than the price is displaying.  Right now, all eyes and ears are on recession fears due to the trade war with China.  If the world economy slows down, then I don’t expect crude prices to tank much more than below $50/barrel.  So much of the recession fear is baked into the current price.  However, if the trade war starts to wind down and the world economy continues as is, then we could easily experience a $7-10 spike in crude prices.  The FED said that they are willing to act appropriately but not committed to rate cuts and the trade with China does not seem to be slowing down anytime soon.  For now, WTI crude will continue to bounce in mid $50’s.

Retail prices on gasoline and diesel have continued to ease.  Gas prices have fallen below $2.49/gallon in some markets, and diesel has dropped below $2.69.  I expect to see these lower prices at the pump through Labor Day.

Propane prices are at historical lows and inventories remain at historical highs.  We expect propane inventories to hit the largest volume ever recorded.  We encourage everyone to enjoy these low prices with a summer fill and contract for the next heating season.  Please call our office or go online to place an order!

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

Best regards,

Jon Crawford – Pres.

Recession Fears Drag Down Crude Prices

Greetings!

Another wild ride for crude prices this week.  The week started off with crude prices skyrocketing higher on the announcement that Trump would delay additional Chinese tariffs.  The news coincided with Saudi Arabia announcing another run at taking Aramco public and saying they will do whatever it takes to keep prices from going lower.  But oh, what a difference a day makes.  China responded by continuing to devalue their currency and markets got a little shaky.  Then, the US reported large builds in crude and refined product inventories.  As crude prices started to fall, the bond market displayed indications of a looming recession and the stock market along with crude prices cratered.  We are now back to almost the low price of the year again in three days!  I would expect Saudi Arabia to start hitting the airwaves again soon if this continues.  I just don’t see them allowing WTI to fall below $50/barrel.

In local retail news, prices for gasoline and diesel are all over the map due to high fluctuations in cost and price spreads between terminals marketing either Chicago Spot or Group 3 Spot.  I expect wild discrepancies on street prices of gasoline and diesel over the next month or two.

Propane prices continue to stay very low based on high volume of national inventory.  Please take advantage of summer fill prices.  With the potential for high corn drying demand and an additional export terminal coming on board in Q4, propane prices could start to swing up quickly by the end of the year.  Please call our office or go online to place an order.  If you have not contracted propane for the next heating season, I also suggest talking with our staff about options that might work for you.

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

Best regards,

Jon Crawford – Pres.

Customer Appreciation Day!

Happy Friday!!!

Thank you to all our customers who made it out to the Fort Bp in Portage to celebrate Crawford Oil and Propane Customer Appreciation Day!  We had a beautiful day and served over 400 people!  A great time was had by all.  Prizes were awarded, kids jumped in a bouncy house, and everyone had time to sit down and relax.  Money was raised for River Haven Homeless Shelter in Portage.  We appreciate all of our customers and just love throwing a celebration every year!

In crude oil news, crude oil prices closed at their lowest point of the year this week before rebounding.  We are currently back to the low prices of a few months prior.  WTI is just unable to hold above $55/barrel right now with the China trade war in bloom.  China is devaluing their currency and threatening to use crude oil as a bargaining chip.  If they unload the Iranian crude sitting in port, the market will absolutely collapse and bring some pain to the US oil industry.  Also, the world is worried about economic slowdown coupled with the ability for the US to increase export capacity.  Basically, the US will be putting more oil into the market over the coming six months with potentially less customer demand.  And the US inventories rose over the past week during peak demand!  There are a lot of bears out there right now!  The only bullish news that kept WTI from breaking through the psychological price of $50/barrel was an emergency announcement from Saudi Arabia that they will do anything to keep prices from going lower.  The announcement bumped crude back up over $4/barrel to finish the week just under $55/barrel.  Next week will be very interesting.

In local news, prices of gasoline and diesel will continue to drop a bit at the pump.  I believe prices will firm up again next week, but for now, you should see a little more relief on prices at the pump!

Propane prices continue to stay low, low, low.  Propane inventories remain historically high and until a demand event kicks in, propane prices will follow crude.  If you have have not ordered a summer fill, please do so!  These prices are just too good to pass up.  We also recommend contracting for the coming season.  Our prices are lower than last year which is always a plus!  Feel free to call the office or go online to place an order.

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

Best regards,

Jon Crawford – Pres.

The Wild Crude Yo-Yo

Good morning,

I hope everyone has been enjoying the most beautiful week of summer so far.  The weather has been fantastic!  Crude oil prices took a nose dive this week after Trump announced that he would break the truce with China on the trade war.  Trump says that he wants to put another $300 billion tariffs on Chinese goods starting September 1st.  The news was an absolute shock to the financial sector and WTI price broke through the technical floor of $55/barrel.  Once the price broke the floor, the bottom fell out and WTI closed at the lowest price of the year.  WTI dropped over $4/barrel which is the largest single day drop in over four years!  The week started with a rally in crude prices as the markets expected the FED to move towards a dovish pattern.  In addition, the US inventories of crude oil, gasoline, and diesel all experienced major draw downs.  So crude prices were primed for upward movement this week.  But the FED gave the tone that they remain hawkish in their views and the announced rate drop is only an adjustment.  And then Trump announced the September Chinese tariffs.  And the cherry on top was the report that China has purchased almost 12 million barrels of Iranian crude legally and has the crude in bonded storage at port in China which does not violate US sanctions.  This means that Iran has been able to offload crude to China at discounted rates for the work that China does in Iran without violating US sanctions.  Therefore, Iran has found a way around the sanctions.  If China decides to violate and start using the bonded crude oil, some traders believe another $5-7/barrel could come off of crude prices.  In other words, there is a glut of crude oil sitting out there just waiting to be used.  More will develop on this I’m sure.

In local retail news, retail prices have stabilized on gasoline and diesel.  Although there was a slight uptick in prices this week, I don’t expect to see any major changes on retail prices in the coming week.

Propane prices continue to move with crude.  As I have been writing, propane inventories remain very high, but the petrochemical companies started buying propane a couple weeks back.  The petrochems can blow through inventory pretty quickly, so we remained patient to see if a trend was forming.  Then this week, there was a fire at the largest Exxon/Mobil petrochemical factory in Houston.  This caused price spreads between the two storage hubs to collapse.  With the loss of more demand, propane just can’t seem to find any legs for upward momentum.  If you have not filled your tank this summer, please do so.  In addition, we have contracts for next heating season available.  Please call the office or go online to place an order!

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

Best regards,

Jon Crawford

Lots of Noise, No Movement

Good morning,

Crude oil ended the week with little change in price even though the headlines were packed full of influential data.  On the geopolitical front, Iran captured a ship from the UK, claimed to have caught US spies in Iran, and threatened the rest of the world’s Navies to stay out of the Persian Gulf.  In the past, these types of incidents would have triggered a 10-15% premium increase on crude prices.  But this week, the news did nothing to move the thermometer on risk premium in crude prices.  I believe this is because the risk of supply surplus is winning in the minds of traders.  Demand erosion is continuing.  This week, even after the largest reported for the year draw-down in US Crude Inventory, prices barely moved.  The lack of movement is because crude is being exported but not necessarily delivered.  Ships of crude oil are starting to appear without a home.  The scenario starting to form has caused much pain on prices in the past.  In addition, China’s economy seems to be cooling and the US is not far behind.  I don’t think recession fears are on, but maybe a pullback.  But any pullback in demand when production is at an all-time high, even with cuts in place from OPEC+, any movement to surplus will form a global glut in crude oil inventories and cause prices to crash.  I actually believe that if OPEC compliance does not continue through the end of the year, we have a risk of WTI crude prices plummeting below $50/barrel to start 2020.  And I don’t think that low of price would slow down the US production.  I really think we need to experience WTI prices closer to $45/barrel before we see US production dramatically slow up.  For now, it’s possibly sideways movement on crude prices until end of summer.

In local retail news, as I was writing last week, retail prices peaked and have come down like expected.  I don’t expect prices to drop much more at the pump though.  However, it’s better than an increase during summer travel!

Propane prices continue to stay very low with high volumes of national inventory.  Please take advantage of these prices and fill your tank.  We will deliver below the minimum requirement during this time to try and help everyone save some money!  We also suggest that you contract your propane for this coming winter.  The contract prices are lower than last year and are a good value.

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

Best regards,

Jon Crawford

Demand Erosion In The Lead

Good morning,

Despite continued tensions with Iran, demand erosion is winning on directing prices of crude oil.  WTI crude fell from over $60/barrel posting last week to now just over $55/barrel.  China has posted terrible economic data.  But we always need to remember that those numbers are not always trustworthy.  In addition, oil tankers from West Africa have been found in the ocean without a home.  In other words, buying is starting to slow down, even though OPEC+ has taken 1.2M barrels/day off the table.  If world demand truly slows down, then we might see crude prices drop another $5/barrel!  I am absolutely stunned at the lack of interest in traders biting on geopolitical issues right now.  With all the turmoil surrounding Iran, the data must be very convincing showing as long as the US continues to pump at current levels and world demand continues to decline, the oil market will move into surplus again, even with all the current OPEC+ cuts in place!  The next six months are going to be very interesting to watch.  If WTI crude breaks through $54/barrel, then we have a shot at seeing the floor fall out back down to $49/barrel.

In local retail news, gasoline and diesel prices have peaked following the landfall of hurricane Barry.  All oil fields have restarted and prices relaxed.  For now, I think we have experienced the highs for the month of July.

Propane prices continue to remain very low.  Propane continues to trade with crude oil, so if crude prices stay low and propane production stays strong, we should have robust inventories for the winter.  However, because propane prices have now fallen into competitive spreads against natural gas, petrochemical companies are starting to bite on stored propane in the south.  If crude prices stay low, I could see petrochemical companies taking a huge chunk out of inventories in the coming six months.  In addition, if corn drying demand is strong, we could see a further draw on inventories.  I do not believe that we will see major price spikes by Thanksgiving, but if the winter is very cold, we could start to see prices spike after Christmas into 2020.  If you have not filled your propane tank this summer, please do so!  Contracts for next heating season are also available.

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

Best regards,

Jon Crawford