Election Over… Best News of the Week!

Good morning!

Happy Friday!  The US Midterm elections are finally over.  TV watching and web browsing can finally go back to normal.  Although all the results will not be known for a bit, it looks like we will have a Congress divided.  The markets this week went bonkers on a slight decrease in CPI.  Many are starting to believe that peak inflation is behind us.  But I feel it’s still too early to wave the victory flag.  Russia also retreated from Kherson and Ukraine is starting to show signs that they might consider exploring peace agreements.  In addition to the US, countries are starting to put a little pressure trying to end the war.  China threw two head-fakes this week.  Starting the week, China pivoted back to no-Covid policy and shut down factories and other areas of the country.  Then today, China decided to lower quarantine times for exposures as well as travelers.  The flip-flop decisions from China on Covid are causing waves through the energy markets.  WTI crude price is looking to close below $90/barrel for the week.  Although WTI dropped below $85/barrel briefly, prices look to close at about the same price as last week.  Holiday season will be interesting.  Many consumers are saying they are going to spend less on stuff and purchase just a few nice items for the holidays.  Instead, consumers will focus on experiences and travel.  The shift in potential spending habits of consumers will cause ripple effects through the energy markets.  I have never experienced such a fast changing landscape in the energy sector!

In local retail news, diesel cost in the Chicago market is inflated by about 50 cents per gallon due to strong demand with harvest and tight supplies.  Once harvest is completed in the coming weeks, I expect to see diesel cost plummet in our market.  I can see diesel retail prices much lower going into December.  Gasoline cost has fallen off a cliff and I expect to see gasoline retail prices continue the downward trend next week.

Propane supplies are healthy but demand is finally on the way!  Extended forecast is showing not one day over 50 degrees from here on out through the end of the year!  Colder than normal temps and lots of snow are being predicted in December.  Propane prices can jump higher on a moments notice due to the current arbitrage in value to crude.  As a reminder going into winter, please call us when you no lower than 25% and keep your driveway plowed along with a clear path to your tank.  Winter is starting to show up!

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

Best regards,

Jon Crawford

Diesel Shortage Update: What Shortage?

Happy Friday!

I have decided to write an update based on the enormous amount of phone calls inquiring about the diesel shortage.  I was shocked to learn how widespread the news has run with the story.  Whenever there is a contagion in the market or news cycle, I tend to pause and take a 20k foot view.  I have spent all week reading and speaking with my network.  Some of the greatest analysists agree with my conclusions.  Diesel will be tight until Russian products flow freely.

Is there a true shortage right now?  No.  We need 4.1M barrels per day of diesel and we are producing well over 5M barrels per day.  We are exporting a lot right now but leaving enough at home.  Some news anchors continue to beat the drums that there are less than 20 days of diesel supply remaining.  This is just not true.  On average, we only have 30-40 days of diesel supply on hand.  Currently, we have 20 days of diesel remaining if all 100+ refineries across the United States shut down at the same time for 20 days, and all imports from Canada and others stopped.  What we don’t have right now is a lot of SPARE capacity.  All barrels coming out of a refinery are being sold immediately in the spot market or being exported.  The futures market is heavily backwardated based on current cash spot market.  The reason the spot cash market is so high is because PADD1 (New York Harbor) relies heavily on the Colonial Pipeline and the Products Pipeline (formerly Plantation Pipeline), as well as imports from Europe, Saudi Arabia, and Russia.  In order to incentivize PADD2 and PADD3 refineries to ship diesel to PADD1, the price must be high enough compared to export.  Starting in November, diesel supplies are finally flowing to PADD1 via pipeline and barge.  Shipments look to be steady for the month.  Prices will continue stay high, buy supply will be ok.

Now lets talk solution.  Many news anchors are calling for banning exports.  Well, this would solve the diesel tightness problem, but the price would probably go to $6-7/gallon on diesel.  See, if we stop exporting to Europe and Latin America, then their markets go into true shortage causing massive price spikes in the market.  Diesel is still based off of the NYMEX which is traded globally, and local refiners are not going to sell diesel at $3 in America versus losing out on $7 exports.  So they will charge the higher price at home.  Therefore, banning exports will solve the tightness problem, but would be an economic disaster domestically.

Another solution some are saying is to build more refineries and reopen the old ones. Well, there has not been a new refinery built in over 50 years I believe.  Plus the cost is astronomical and the time frame to complete is probably ten years.  In other words, even if the anticipated 10 year process to obtain a permit were completed, completion of the refinery would be finished 10 years from now; not exactly a realistic solution.  Well, the good news is that there are about four major refiners that either down due to maintenance or accidents.  All of these refiners will be back online between the coming weeks and Q2 of 2023.  Once those refineries are on line, we might start to climb ever so slightly into a small long diesel scenario.  And if we truly start to go into demand recession, diesel inventories will also start to slowly build.

But let’s talk about the major elephant in the room:  Ukraine/Russia war.  Russia exports diesel as well as crude oil.   I want to continue to push home that we truly don’t have a global crude oil problem.  Much of the “tightness” in the crude market is due to OPEC+ enacting cuts, and Europe/US banning Russian imports.  Russia is pushing so hard to keep prices high because they know they will be selling less product.  Russia was finding good homes for products, but it’s getting harder as economies start to slow down.  If Russia really wanted to play hard ball, they could cut production even further causing a disaster scenario in crude shortness, but also putting Saudi Arabia in a tough spot to see if they would increase to counter.   Regardless, Russia is a well developed player in the crude oil market and we need to figure out a way for peace.  Yes, Putin is a monster and his actions are deplorable.  But in the same breath, when you really dig into the details of the conflict development over the past twenty years, you start to understand where we are today.  There must be blueprint for peace, but according to Ukraine last week, they will not negotiate or compromise on anything until all of Ukraine, including Crimea is back under control of Ukraine.  I am starting to believe that we should be discussing a peace plan with Ukraine in order to keep funding military support.  We can’t afford to be in a never-ending proxy war, and the stakes with energy and Russia have never been more vital for economic recovery and stability coming out of the cool-down from the post “free money and zero interest rates” period.  If Ukraine has no desire for work towards a resolution or treaty, I struggle to see a long-term way out of our current global energy supply crunch.

In local news, prices of gasoline went up 80 cents per gallon in 5 day, and then started to fall of a cliff.  The retail prices of gasoline at gas stations are going to be all over the place.  Diesel prices went up 40 cents in the past week, so retail diesel prices will start to climb above $5/gallon again.

Propane prices are continuing their stable march forward.  Supplies are in great shape and corn drying demand is winding down by then end of the month.  But once heating demand kicks in and if we start to experience colder than normal time periods, look out.  November is looking to be way above normal, but December is looking much colder.  January is looking colder than normal, and February is looking to be brutally cold.  The projected winter forecast has happened before.  In the past when this happened, everyone enjoyed cheaper than normal propane prices going into Christmas, but then prices screamed higher all the way until April.  Only time will tell, but if the weather predictions are accurate, I expect more propane usage this year and demand going through April just like the last three years.

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

Best regards,

Jon Crawford

Economic Recession or One-Trick Pony?

Good morning!

Crude prices experienced a bit of a seesaw ride this week but are looking to close a bit lower for the week.  The continued saga between supply/demand and which news headlines grips the markets played out again this week.  The UK continued its’ absolute economic mess with PM Truss resigning this week.  The UK has a long way to go to dig themselves out of a hole that was created in only six weeks.  The earnings reports this week were not stellar and many FED members called for rate hikes much higher than 4.75%.  Jeff Bezos made a post this week that it’s time to batten down the hatches.  Xi Jinping in China gave his speech to the CCP Congress this week and addressed his vision.  Many believe the vision includes the forceful unification of Taiwan.  However, there was movement to possibly loosen Covid quarantines for visitors prompting many to believe China wants to reopen to the world.  Although an “open China” would give strength to crude oil demand, the breadth of Pres Biden’s chip export ban is starting to become realized.  China will be crippled along with many other countries since TSMC and others can not fulfill the chip demand of the world.  The results could be devastating on world economic growth, hence cutting crude oil demand.  Although the US is building FABS, we will not have the capacity online in time to brunt the pain of the China chip export ban.  Many believe Biden’s act is a provocation to China, placing us now in conflict with both China and Russia.  With midterms coming, many are starting to grow tired of the Russian conflict and are wanting the US to force a path to resolution between Ukraine and Russia.  As the FED continues to raise interest rates, we will not be able to afford continued economic support in Ukraine and support our growing FAB infrastructure.  As a distraction to the main global conflicts on hand causing economic headwinds, Pres Biden announced another strategic reserve release of 15M barrels of  oil to counter the OPEC+ production cuts.  Although crude prices retreated on the news, I believe that poor economic data and world conflict news were the true causes of the price retreat.  Crude oil supply is only part of the issue.  Refining capacity is the larger issue at hand.  More crude oil in the market does not make more gasoline and diesel.  We are still experiencing decreases in national inventories of crude oil, gasoline, and diesel even though our rig counts and production levels are back to pre-pandemic level.  In addition, Pres Biden announced again that he would fill the strategic reserves at $80/barrel.  I completely disagree with the strategy.  If we truly fall into economic recession, the possibility of crude oil prices falling below $80 is very, very real.  Then the US is sitting on a ton of high-priced crude.  Also, when the US buys crude for the reserves, it takes the crude oil supplies off the tightly supplied market and causes prices to increase.  I believe that the government should focus on economic conditions at home and ending the conflict in Russia.  The government is not in the businesses of trading crude oil.  I am very concerned that the amount of government interference in the crude oil marketplace, coupled with decreasing reserves, is placing us in a dangerous and vulnerable position.

In local news, gasoline prices in the Chicago market finally eased from their insane differential spreads to our neighboring markets.  Diesel prices are also starting to fall due to economic headwinds and the harvest demand on the downslope.  I do believe that Pres Biden made moves the past week to try and lower prices prior to midterms.  The moves have been used by many previous presidents in the past. However, this time it’s dangerous with how tight our market is at home and abroad.  I do believe that you will see OPEC+ respond accordingly in November, and unfortunately OPEC+ has a lot more room to cut production than we have strategic reserves at home.  The US government needs to treat lightly going into the end of the year.

Propane prices have found support due to colder than normal weather, as well as a colder than normal forecast for the winter.  Although supplies are in good shape, the percentage value of propane price to crude oil price will start to narrow as demand kicks in.   I am more optimistic on propane supplies for the winter, but I am still pessimistic that these lower prices will not hold into December and January.  Unless crude oil prices completely collapse, propane prices are primed to go higher.

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

Best regards,

Jon Crawford

Demand Destruction and the Strong Dollar Winning the Battle in the Marketplace

Good morning!

Happy Friday!  Well, after a week of digesting record proposed cuts by OPEC+, WTI crude prices have settled back below $90/barrel and heading towards $85/barrel.  The meltdown in the UK is giving further support to the US Dollar.  And in the United States, inflation continues to run hot which supports further aggressive FED rate hikes.  These rate hikes in turn give strength to the Dollar, which lowers crude prices because crude is traded based on the Dollar.  In addition to inflation data, the US seems to be continuing it’s trend towards recession.  Consumer spending is starting to show cracks and major retailers are trying to liquidate bloated inventories due to dropping demand.  In addition, crude oil inventories in the US experienced a massive build as well as gasoline inventories.  However, diesel inventories continue to drop on demand for the harvest and lower refining capacity.  I expect to see diesel prices continue to trade at major premiums through all of next year due to nationwide refining constraints.  The war in the Ukraine as well as OPEC+ production cuts have lost the battle this week for the eyes and ears of the markets.  But the volatility does not look to be going away anytime soon, so we’ll see who wins the eyes and ears of the markets next week!

In local markets, the bloated differentials on gasoline have subsided.  Therefore, I expect to see gasoline retail prices remain under $4/gallon.  Diesel price spreads have not changed much due to high diesel demand for harvest and continued refining constraints.  I could see diesel retail prices holding above $5/gallon next week.

Propane continues to show nice inventory builds.  We now have a decent supply going into winter.  However, that does not cover us for major Polar Vortex events or a prolonged winter.  But we are in better shape than last year.  Prices are moving around a little bit, but not much changing at retail due to such a value spread between propane price and crude oil price.  Basically, at first demand for propane, prices could jump by 10-15%.  For now, I highly recommend taking advantage of these lower prices holding into winter.

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

Best regards,

Jon Crawford

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

Happy start to October!

Well, this week has been absolutely ugly for the crude oil markets.  On October 5th, OPEC+ met in person for the first time since 2020.  Everyone knew that the meeting was going to be important because OPEC+ wanted all ministers to vote in person for a more personal and intense negotiation.  Crude oil prices started out the week trading much higher based on announcements prior to the meeting of a 1M barrel per day cut to crude oil production.  Saudi Arabia and Russia were going to bare the brunt of the cuts.  Both countries were signaling that the United States’ involvement with the war in Ukraine, raising FED rates to strengthen the dollar, as well as weaponizing the Strategic Petroleum Reserves were not going to be tolerated anymore.  Biden and his crew worked tirelessly behind the scenes with Saudi Arabia and others to try and lower the amount of the proposed cut.  Saudi Arabia has been a long-time but difficult ally of the United States and Europe, so many believed that Saudi Arabia’s actions could draw a line in the sand on the future of the relationship between the countries.  Well, Wednesday turned out to be a double-whammy.  Not only did Saudi Arabia side with Russia to cut production, but they surprised the markets with a 2M barrel per day cut to crude oil production!  Then a few hours later, the EIA released their United States inventory report showing major drawdowns in gasoline and diesel inventories, as well crude oil inventories.  The surprise from OPEC+ and the inventory report shot WTI prices close to $90/barrel.  WTI is now going to be locked in a range of about $85-95/barrel for the foreseeable future.  Biden announced a 10M barrel Strategic Reserve release, but the actions didn’t and won’t move the needle.  The markets know that our reserves are below 50% and we don’t have the spare capacity to be playing with our reserves anymore.  But there is a proposed law called NOPEC that is floating around Congress.  The bill would name OPEC as a price fixing cartel and sue countries, particularly Saudi Arabia, for damages caused by their market manipulating actions.  In the past, the bill was tabled because we needed Saudi Arabia.  In fact, we allowed Saudi Aramco to invest in the US equities markets, real estate, etc.  If NOPEC was passed, the government might be able to sue Saudi Arabia and seek damages by seizing all their assets in the American markets, which could devastate Saudi Arabia’s long-term plans of diversification from oil.  I believe there is a consensus growing in the US that Saudi Arabia sided with Russia and is no longer our ally.  So we must respond and break up our relationship.  Although Saudi Arabia sent a message of strong-arming the West, the outcome could come back to bite harder than Saudi Arabia might have anticipated.  Not only would penalties be enforced, but all arms sales to Saudi Arabia would be halted.  As they say, “money talks”.  The process would be painful, but looking at the current economic situation, the best time might be now to rip off the Band-Aid.  Although prices for fuel are going to go much higher, the long term consequences of this week’s actions are just beginning.

In local news, record high differentials in gasoline spot-market-spreads eased.  So although crude prices rocketed higher, gasoline prices eased a bit from the record highs last week.  Gasoline retail will still remain near the $4/gallon mark.  But diesel prices went on an absolute rip this week.  Diesel cost went up 90 cents/gal since October 1st.  We will see diesel prices over $5/gallon again at the pump any day now.  As harvest is just getting into full swing, the record jump in cost could not have come at a worse time.  I expect to see these prices hold for the coming months unless economic data starts to get really ugly and the FED continues to raise rates aggressively.

Propane prices have started to come up from their lows.  Propane has been fairly stable the past two months.  But as crude prices are now rockin’ higher, the propane trade is starting to come alive.  Based on the percentage spread of propane price to crude oil price, propane is primed for some big moves higher.  As demand starts to ramp up for propane, and if crude prices remain at the current levels, we could see some big moves higher in propane prices.  If you have not done so, we highly recommend filling your tank at this time.

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

Best regards,

Jon Crawford

Holy Toledo Batman!

Good morning!

Happy Friday! A lot of action in the news this week affecting crude oil prices.  First, in global news, the Nord Stream pipelines look to have been sabotaged by Russia causing the largest ever release of methane gas into our atmosphere.  Although the pipelines are not in operation at this time, the lines are still pressurized.  Many believe that Russia is using the incident to show that all options are on the table to try and “win” the war in Ukraine.  OPEC+ will be meeting on October 5th to discuss potential cuts to production.  Russia is being said to request a 1M bbd cut in crude oil production due to the drop in price along with demand destruction hitting Europe, China, and the US.   Also, the continued strength of the US dollar is putting heavy downward pressure on crude oil prices.  But the biggest news of the week was hurricane Ian making landfall in Florida as a Category 4 storm.  The combination of all the events this week pushed WTI crude prices over $80/barrel for the first time since almost two weeks ago.  The Gulf Coast crude production of almost 200k bbd was shuddered from the storm.  However, production will resume starting next week.  In addition to the hurricane, a surprise drop in national petroleum inventories caused additional support to prices.  But I believe the EIA numbers were a bit off due to hurricane prep/panic and shutting down of production.  Although crude prices have gained momentum higher, the push/pull between supply/demand is going to be front and center going into October with the OPEC+ meeting.  I believe that cuts are already priced in at this time.  But demand erosion is a very large looming threat globally and I do not think we are out of the woods.  I could see crude oil prices going back down into the $60’s for a bit next year, and as long nothing goes majorly sideways in Ukraine, we should be capped under $100/barrel.

In local news, the over 100 year-old Toledo refinery owned by Bp/Husky might not be able to reopen until Q1 of 2023.  The refinery fire a week ago was on the heels of a major turnaround maintenance at the facility.  Workers have now been laid off which is not a good sign for the market.  Chicago market prices on gasoline are now trading at a 70 cents/gal premium compared to New York and the Gulf.  The 200k bpd refinery became a major supply point over the past two years due to the extremely tight refinery market.  As I have been writing, there is NO room for error with refineries and this is a major error.  The US does not have the refining capacity it once had and the continued closing of refineries is only making it worse.  And due to the Ukraine conflict, additional import capacity of refined products is capped.  Gasoline retail prices were about to drop below $3/gallon and now I don’t see that happening anytime soon.  Diesel retail prices should remain fairly stable, as BP Whiting refinery is the main diesel supplier to our local market.

Propane prices continue to surprise us with stability as corn drying season begins and winter approaches.  Although we are almost 15% higher in national inventory compared to last year, our numbers are still well below the five-year average.  Any sort of extreme cold weather event this year could cause a major spike in price on propane.  We highly recommend filling up your tank now and hedging a bit of your heating season usage by locking in your price for winter.

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

Best regards,

Jon Crawford

Crude Prices Collapsing, But Don’t Exhale Just Yet

Good morning!

Happy Friday!  Lots to get caught up on here.  I was on vacation last week so I’ll cut to the chase.  Going into this week, the big news was going to be whether or not WTI crude prices can hold above $80/barrel.  Last week crude prices sold off a bit but as prices started to touch closer to $80/barrel, support started to build.  In addition, the US announced that they would refill the petroleum reserves at $80/barrel which actually supported higher prices in crude!  Announcing the “strike price” on a reserve refill gives support to future pricing.  If the US wanted to refill reserves, the strategy should be to make no announcements and “slow and steady” purchasing.  Basically, you want as few as people to notice when you are buying.  So going into this week, support at $80/barrel was VERY strong.  By the time of this writing, WTI price fell BELOW $80/barrel, even after all the support built in last week.  The UK announced rates cuts at a time of record inflation pushing markets on Friday into a tailspin.  The strength of the dollar soared to new highs out of the gate this morning and the bottom fell out of the market.  I guess for now, it’s time to go to the kitchen and make some popcorn.  The next level of support is under $70/barrel.  The looming issues still causing mild jitters are Russia threatening to use nukes and hurricanes hitting the Gulf of Mexico.  For now, sit back and be patient.

In local news, as crude oil markets collapsed, gasoline cost soared over $1/gallon higher in the Chicago spot market.  Yes, you read this correctly.  Gasoline prices went up $1/gallon in three days.  A Bp refinery in Toledo suffered a massive explosion killing two people this week.  The loss of the refinery puts immense pressure on an already tight market due to short supplies in the neighboring Group market.  Diesel prices did not go up as much since gasoline supply is much tighter.  My recommendation is to fill up you car because prices could get ugly for awhile.  Once a roadmap to normal supplies is realized, prices will fall faster than you can blink!  Retail markets are going to be very interesting in Wisconsin for the coming weeks.  Harvest is starting to take shape so demand for diesel is going to skyrocket.  So far, markets seem to be prepared and we hope to scoot through the next month.  However, a hurricane to the south or east coast could mean disaster with the Chicago and Group struggling to find supply reliability during this time.  There will be no spare capacity in either market to help out the East Coast or Gulf Coast.

Propane prices continue to hold as supplies are looking better than last year.  However, we are still under the five year average in national inventory and corn drying has not been completed.  We will know in a couple of months how propane is positioned for winter.  But if crude prices truly collapse going into an economic downturn, propane prices might be held in check.  The winter is predicted to be colder than normal, so a potential offset to low crude prices might occur due to increased winter demand.  As always, only time will tell.  But for now, at least propane supplies are in better shape than a few months ago.

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

Best regards,

Jon Crawford

$80 WTI Floor Holding Firm Like Concrete

Good morning!

Crude prices fell again this week with WTI price moving closer to $80/barrel.  A lot of “technical selling” took place as traders repositioned to the upcoming winter after summer driving season.  The next major floor for WTI is $80/barrel and the resistance to push lower looks very strong at this time.  Although the EIA released a massive build in crude oil inventories on their weekly inventory report, the majority took place outside of Conway, meaning that exports were down.  The US is still drawing down crude supplies at a decent clip.  Europe announced price caps on heating bills as well exploring a cap on Russian crude import price.  Countries are trying to convince India to come on board with the Russian crude price cap, but that will be a heavy lift.  China is really showing signs of weakness in their economy.  Shipping rates are decreasing, productivity is dropping, and a new “election” is taking place soon with an emphasis on more isolationist economic policies.  The US and Australia responded with a massive trade meeting to try and work out deals between countries including Vietnam, India, and Indonesia.  All three of these countries could provide incredible relief on the trade markets if China starts to pull back.  The labor rates in China have increased dramatically in order to promote the rise in common wealth, so other nations are seizing the opportunity to bring economic prosperity to their citizens.  The development of new global trade partners will be very interesting to watch over the next couple of years.

In local news, gasoline and diesel retail prices continue to drop.  Chicago spot market has continued to give back their delta compared to other markets.  I expect to see diesel retail prices ease a little bit more at the pump.  Gasoline prices will easily hold under $3.49/gallon next week.

Propane prices continue to stay steady going into winter.  Although inventories are up from last year, our national volume is still lower than average.  If corn drying ends up being a nothing-burger, we should be in pretty good shape for the winter.  However, we must be conscious that Eastern Canada is 50% below last year’s inventory level which means there is no spare capacity coming from Canada this year.  As long as there are no major supply hiccups in the US or major “Polar Vortex” situations, we should scoot through the upcoming winter.  However, we highly recommend filling your tank right now at the current price.  I still believe that propane prices will go up this winter as supplies start to fall.

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

Best regards,

Jon Crawford

Happy Labor Day Weekend!

Good morning!

I just wanted to take a moment and wish everyone a safe and enjoyable Labor Day weekend!  As we head into the fall, prices are starting to ease a bit more on demand worries outweighing tight supplies.  Although the world crude oil market is in slight surplus, any hiccup could be a disaster.  Europe is trying to shore up more energy supplies and so far, things are starting to look a little better.  Countries are now talking about trying to cap Russian crude prices.  But the action would be fairly futile since India and China would never agree.  Russia has continued to make record profits as they sell crude oil to new customers at high prices.  For now, WTI prices are holding just under $90/barrel after jumping last week.  If economies around the globe start to slow down, the major peaks of oil pricing could be behind us.  The headwinds include hurricanes at the US and the upcoming severity of winter around the globe.  Although crude supplies are looking at being in deficit next year, the US production continues to slowly increase and I believe the rest of the world will catch up by next spring.  I’m not as “doom and gloom” as others for next year.  But, this is the world of commodities so anything is possible!

In local news, a fire at the BP Whiting refinery in Indiana halted the production of 300k barrels per day of gasoline to the market.  Thankfully the outage will be short lived and the heavy travel of summer will be behind us.  Gasoline prices will probably hold into next week.  Diesel prices have finally eased from record delta spreads to gasoline.  I expect to see diesel prices at the pump come down next week.

Propane is the broken record.  Propane prices are steady as she goes with great value compared to all other petroleum products.  We highly recommend filling up now before it gets cold, as well as locking in at least some of your winter usage.  Propane prices could catch a ride higher at any time when looking at the value prop compared to crude prices.

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

Best regards,

Jon Crawford

Crude Price Hitching A Ride With Artemis?

Good morning!

Happy Friday! Well, petroleum commodity prices must be watching the Artemis launch to the moon with hopes of hitching a ride.  From July 4th until about last week, petroleum products were enjoying a nice downward trend into a manageable price range.  There was a palpable exhale in the air over the last month.  Moods of consumers were improving.  Farmers were optimistic.  And the markets were happy to see another sign that inflation was easing and lower-cost energy could soften the recessionary blow.  Wow…what a difference a week makes.  OPEC+ announced this week that they will support Saudi Arabia in cutting production, if necessary, to keep prices high.  The announcement came on the heels of a potential deal on the Iran Nuclear Accord, which Saudi Arabia is definitely opposed.  The markets went into full panic mode and crude prices shot higher.  The news was a definite blow to the Biden Administration in hopes that Saudi Arabia would help keep prices lower going into winter.  Saudi Arabia does not approve of Iran bringing 2M barrels/day back into the market and poaching Saudi customers.  However, the world NEEDS an addition 2M barrels/day of crude oil going into the winter.  Right now, any additional spare capacity in the market has come from the US selling their Strategic Petroleum Reserves.  The US has depleted 50% of the SPR and is now back at 1980’s levels.  The sale of the SPR ends in October, just as the world desperately needs more oil for winter.  The Iran deal was meant to plug the deficit after the SPR sale stops.  If the Iran deal does not go through, and Saudi Arabia cuts production, I’m not sure the US has enough SPR capacity to keep markets stable.  The world is in a definite “stand-off” on crude oil right now.  The situation developed very quickly and clearly the negotiations taking place behind closed doors broke down and the markets were not prepared.  I’m not sure what to anticipate at this point.  The US Energy Secretary is calling to possibly cut back our record 11M bpd exports of petroleum products.  But the US has also promised Europe we would help them.  Biden and company are in big trouble and I’m not sure how this situation will play out.  Regardless, US consumers are going to pay through the roof on heating bills this year for electricity, natural gas, and fuel oil.  Propane has escaped the same trajectory higher in price due to known upper bound limits on exports and better ability to forecast.  Although propane prices could blow out higher, most consumers are better price protected with future contracting.  I truly believe that the US consumer will be drained of excess cash due to heating/electricity bills over the next eight months.  Unless we have a silver bullet that pops the crude market, I see a hurricane disaster that popped up out of nowhere on the horizon.

In local news, prices of gasoline have stabilized but diesel prices have blown out to almost $1.50/gallon more in cost compared to gasoline!  I have never seen the spread that wide in cost between gasoline and diesel.  The Chicago market is incredibly tight going into harvest and spot cash markets are panicking.  Retail price on diesel will potentially go over $5/gallon again.  I’m hoping that maybe some of the ramping up in price is an end of month “short squeeze” due to refinery maintenance.  But we just won’t know until after Labor Day.

As I have been writing all summer, propane prices have been fairly stable and are providing an incredibly valuable opportunity.  The price of propane is relatively cheap compared to both natural gas and diesel.  If propane supplies become pinched this winter, a major blowout in higher prices is very possible.  Please take advantage of the current low prices and lock in some of your heating gallons for the upcoming winter.

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

Best regards,

Jon Crawford