Finance News

PIRA Energy Group's Weekly Oil Market Recap for the Week Ending September 8th, 2013

piraNYC-based PIRA Energy Group reports that Brent crude prices have moved higher and are likely to stay strong. On the week, U.S. commercial stocks increased. In Japan, crude imports rose sufficiently to produce a moderate stock build. Specifically, PIRA’s analysis of the oil market fundamentals has revealed the following:

Bullish Oil Prices

It is hard not to be bullish oil prices with the global economy gradually improving, tight physical oil markets and MENA turmoil, which is already substantially reducing global oil supplies and has the potential to reduce supplies further. Current positioning and likely September deflationary type headlines, due in part to a challenging calendar, but also the startup of Iranian nuclear negotiations, pose downside risks to oil prices. Yet, the burgeoning momentum to own oil seems poised to push oil prices higher for now with SPR chatter somewhat limiting the upside.

Slight U.S. Commercial Stock Build

Commercial inventories increased for the week ending August 30 as product stocks swung from a draw the week before to a build. Added supply resulted from reported product demand weakening and product output increasing. This more than offset a product import decline. Last year for the same week, product stocks declined as refinery operations were curtailed by Hurricane Isaac. Hence the year on year product stock excess widened with the bulk of the excess in gasoline and other products.

Japanese Crude Runs Decline as Turnarounds Gear Up

Crude runs began to decline as turnarounds started to gear up and crude imports rose sufficiently to produce a moderate crude stock build. Gasoline demand eased modestly, while gasoil demand remained strong. Stocks of both posted only modest changes on the week. Kerosene demand perked up and with a lower yield the stock build rate slowed. Refinery margins remain very poor.

Saudi Formula Crude Prices for October Tightens for Asia, Less Aggressive in Europe

Saudi’s formula prices for October were recently released. In Asia, differentials were raised most aggressively on lighter grades, but the differential for Arab heavy was left unchanged. While the price adjustment was termed "less aggressive" than market expectations, refiners still cannot be too pleased given the woefully weak refining margins, particularly for topping configurations.

Cushing Stocks Drop 15 Million Barrels in Last 9 Weeks

Crude stocks at Cushing, Oklahoma have fallen for nine consecutive weeks – a total of 15 million barrels since late June. Southern price spreads remained tight, with WTI discounts to Atlantic Basin light crudes averaging $4-5/Bbl in August. Northern spreads were mixed, as oil sands upgrader maintenance restricted synthetic crude supplies while raising bitumen production.

Slow Stock Building in U.S.

Propane building season continues but at a slow pace, despite the latest week's surge, in the U.S. as exports remain quite high, petchem feed usage is ongoing and the crop drying season is just weeks away. Europe is starting to attract cargoes as North Sea maintenance continues and petchem feedstock usage is quite favorable. The Northern Hemisphere needs to start preparing for the upcoming heating season.

U.S. Ethanol Prices Soar

U.S. ethanol prices rose to a two-month the week ending August 30. The jump was primarily due to the scarcity of corn in the Midwest, causing ethanol production to drop to a 21-week low. Also providing support were petroleum prices which rose to a two-year high.

The information above is part of PIRA Energy Group's weekly Energy Market Recap, which alerts readers to PIRA’s current analysis of energy markets around the world as well as the key economic and political factors driving those markets.


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