Energy Futures Catching Their Breath

Energy futures are catching their breath this morning after a strong start to October trading saw WTI join Brent and ULSD at (close enough to) 4 year highs.

It seems like everywhere you turn there’s a new call for $100 oil, and very few bearish outlooks as the world struggles to find a solution to declining production in Iran and Venezuela. Perhaps the most bearish news is that everyone seems bullish, and as the trading adage goes, “when everyone’s on the same side of the boat, that’s when it tips over.”

The wild ride of crude oil spreads continues this week: If you want to buy Brent crude in Western Europe, it’s going to cost around $85/barrel. If you want crude oil in Western Canada meanwhile, you can get that for around $35. The spread between WTI in Midland and WTI in Cushing has tightened dramatically in the past few days as the new Sunrise pipeline has started taking barrels in West Texas as line fill as regular operations are scheduled to begin in the next few weeks.

The EIA published a note today showing how the crude oil being refined on the US Gulf Coast has become lighter over the past several years as new barrels from US shale plays displace imports. The changing crude slate is providing challenges to refiners both domestically and abroad as new projects are needed to optimize run rates, and may further complicate the upcoming marine diesel spec change in 2020.

While most of the tropical storm activity remains in the Pacific Ocean, far enough away from most energy infrastructure not to influence fuel prices, there is a new disturbance in the Caribbean that needs to be watched this week as it could get into the Gulf of Mexico by the weekend.


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