Happy Friday. As I have been writing, we need to watch the price of diesel as a predictor of our economic future. This week diesel prices continued their surge with the East Coast toping over $6/gallon at retail. In our local markets, diesel retail is now over $5/gallon! Crude prices have surged higher again with the EU coming ever closer to an embargo on Russian crude. OPEC+ has voted to continue their “trickle level” of increase in monthly crude production. Even though the FED enacted the largest rate increase in decades, crude prices continue to surge. With the war in Ukraine not letting up, I fear we are in for a long-haul with these energy markets. Natural gas has officially hit the highest price since 2008 and shows no signs up letting up. Utilities will be forced to increase rates into next season, so heating costs will be much higher for consumers next winter. The energy markets remind me of the crisis in 2014. Although the skies are very dark right now, the coming years are looking much better. The amount of crude oil production and refining capacity coming online in the coming 12-24 months is very robust and should not only stabilize the world market but build to surplus. I believe we are reaching the boiling point in consumer based demand at the current retail price of energy. If these retail prices hold for a few more months, a decrease in demand will occur and prices should start to relax. But a true collapse in energy prices will not occur until world supply is more stable. Hopefully we will start to see the sun poke through these storm clouds by the end of the year.
In local news, diesel retail prices shot over $5/gallon. Gasoline retail is about to shoot over $4/gallon going into summer driving season. If these prices hold for a significant amount of time, consumers will start to change behaviors. And unfortunately, I’m just not sure there is anything the US can do anymore to stop these prices from surging.
Propane prices are continuing to trade in a narrow range compared to other commodities. Production of propane is very strong and inventories are building nicely going into summer. The big unknown is going to be corn drying demand. With crops getting such a late start in the season, the potential for increased dryer demand is on the table. The good news, although propane prices are higher than average right now, the cost of propane to heat is cheaper than natural gas right now. We will be sending out contract information for next heating season in the coming months. I’m not sure retail prices will go much lower for summer, but we should know more by the start of June.
As always, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to give us a call.