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Disappointing Demand Readings From The DOE

Friday, May 29 2020
Market Talk

Disappointing demand readings from the DOE, and the latest war of words between the U.S. and China are getting credit for a weak finish to May trading, dampening the results on what has otherwise been a very strong month for energy contracts. June RBOB and HO futures expire today, so watch the July numbers (RBN/HON) to see where spot markets will be heading for the weekend.

Total petroleum demand in the U.S. declined last week, disappointing many looking for the Memorial Day bump to keep the recovery rally in place. While gasoline demand did tick higher on the week, inventories outside of the West Coast continued to build. Diesel continues down its unusual path of being the weak link in the energy chain, as soft demand and exports send inventories towards record highs. While there have been numerous stories of refineries ramping up run rates or bringing idled units back online to match the demand recovery, these inventory overhangs and soft margins may limit both the capability and desire to do so.

The EIA’s unaccounted for crude oil calculation reached a new record for a third straight week at -999,000 barrels/day, suggesting actual U.S. oil production is about one million barrels/day lower than the official output estimate, a testament both to the scope and flexibility of the U.S. energy industry, and to the challenge of gathering statistical data in real time.

Lies, damn lies and…The EIA isn’t the only one struggling to keep their data accurate these days. The IMF noted how the abrupt nature of the pandemic has disrupted the production of statistics, which is likely to hamper policymakers in their efforts to spur recovery.

The latest example of how oil output cuts are easier said than done: A Reuters report this morning notes that Russia’s Rosneft Oil Company is unable to reduce output to mandated levels while still fulfilling its long term contract obligations.

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