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Refined Products

Recap:  Inventory numbers evoked mixed emotions, as U.S. crude oil inventories reported by the EIA fell 5.7 million barrels, more than the expected 3.2 million barrels, but less than the 7.13 million barrels the API reported. Gasoline stockpiles were up 908,000, less than the expected 1 million barrel build, while stockpiles for distillates grew 528,000 barrels; expectations were calling for a decrease of 1.45 million barrels.

Crude oil prices slipped below unchanged after the EIA report, but recovered on support from tensions in the Middle East, as fighting continues between Kurdish and Iraqi forces. November WTI clawed its way back above $52 a barrel, to settle at $52.04, up 16 cents, or 0.31%.  Brent for December delivery tacked on 27 cents, or 0.47%, to settle at $58.15 a barrel.

November RBOB rose 0.8% to $1.643 a gallon, but November heating oil shed 0.4% to $1.803 a gallon.

Fundamental News: Four OPEC sources stated that OPEC is leaning towards extending a deal with Russia and other non-members to cut their output for a further nine months, although stronger than expected demand growth may allow the group to delay a decision until early next year.  Three OPEC sources said keeping the output cut in place until the end of 2018 was a likely outcome, while a fourth said an extension of six to nine months would be needed to remove all excess oil in storage.  Discussions among producers are continuing ahead of the next OPEC meeting scheduled on November 30th in Vienna.  OPEC’s board of governors is expected to meet in Vienna on October 23-24th and are likely to informally discuss options and scenarios.

Iran’s Oil Ministry said OPEC has a general agreement to extend the supply cuts beyond March.  Iran would support an extension to the end of 2018 and insisted its own output plans would not be disrupted by President Trump.  The country is targeting production capacity of 4.7 million bpd by 2021, compared with the current 3.8 million bpd to 3.9 million bpd. 

The UAE’s Energy Minister, Suhail al-Mazroui, said international oil markets are heading towards balance as global inventories of crude oil decline. 

According to the Joint Organizations Data Initiative, Saudi Arabia’s crude oil output fell by 59,000 bpd to 9.951 million bpd in August.  Its crude oil exports increased to 6.708 million bpd in August compared with 6.693 million bpd in July, while its oil product exports increased by 7,000 bpd to 1.448 million bpd.  It also reported that the country’s domestic refinery crude throughput fell by 67,000 bpd to 2.62 million bpd in August.  Saudi Arabia’s crude stocks fell by 1.091 million barrels to 254.615 million barrels in August. 

Crude oil flows through the Kurdish pipeline to the Turkish port of Ceyhan increased to 265,000 bpd from 225,000 bpd earlier on Wednesday.  Flows typically run at about 600,000 bpd and stood at about 500,000 bpd on Tuesday.  On Tuesday, Iraqi forces took control of the Bai Hasan and Avana oilfields northwest of Kirkuk after Kurdish Peshmerga fighters pulled out of the region.   

According to Bloomberg, a decline in sailings to Europe has reduced the total observed crude shipments from Iran in the first 15 days of October, compared with the same period in September.  Total crude exports from Iran fell to an average of 1.933 million bpd, down 114,000 bpd from 2.048 million bpd in the first two weeks of September. 

IIR reported that US oil refiners are expected to shut in 1.403 million bpd of capacity in the week ending October 20th, increasing available refining capacity by 657,000 bpd from the previous week.  IIR expects offline capacity to fall to 1.343 million bpd in the week ending October 27th. 

Early Market Call - as of 9:00 AM EDT

WTI - Nov  $51.19 down 85 cents

RBOB - Nov $1.6374 down 55 points

HO -Nov $1.7790 down 2.38 cents

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Natural Gas

Wednesday, October 18th saw the front-month NYMEX Natural Gas Futures Contracts open at $2.908, five cents below Tuesday’s closing price of $2.962.  Plotting a downward course from the intraday high of $2.910 as markets opened, the contract slid gradually lower into the morning.  Crossing midday near the $2.88 level, prices fell to the intraday low of $2.851 before closing lower on Wednesday at $2.854.

The EIA Natural Gas Storage Report is due out at 10:30AM today.  The report is expected to show a 45 BCF injection to storage for the week ended October 13th.  This compares to a 77 BCF injection at this time last year and a five-year average injection amount of 78 BCF.

This morning in Globex, WTI Crude was down 63 cents; Natural Gas was unchanged; Heating Oil was down three cents; and, Gasoline was down one cent.  

Natural Gas Glossary

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