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Petroleum Market Commentary - September 9, 2019

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Prices Higher - Rig Count Lower - Speculation Lower - Production Lower - Stock Market Higher - Inventory Lower - Dollar Lower

DIESEL:

During the week ending September 6th, the spot month diesel futures price increased by 6.30 cents per gallon (+3.43%) while the deferred months increased by 4 to 7 cents per gallon making the forward pricing curve higher and slightly more negatively sloped. The one year forward price ended the week at a 4.92 cent discount to the spot price, from a discount of 4.28 cents at the end of the previous week.

The level and slope of the diesel forward pricing curve indicates higher demand expectations and steady inventories with respect to demand. Demand also includes speculation which was lower on the week. When the forward pricing curve decreases in slope (more negative or less positive), this usually indicates tighter inventories and is generally positive for price. When slope increases, this usually indicates more plentiful inventories and is negative for price.

GASOLINE:

During the week ending September 6th, the spot month gasoline futures price increased by 4.45 cents per gallon (+2.91%) while the deferred months increased by 5 to 6 cents per gallon making the forward pricing curve higher and less negatively sloped. The one year forward price ended the week at a 5.83 cent discount to the spot price, from a discount of 6.75 cents and the end of the previous week.

The change in level and shape of the forward pricing curve indicates higher demand expectations and slightly higher inventory levels with respect to supply and demand. Demand also includes speculation which was lower on the week.

ANALYSIS:

DEMAND:

Weekly US petroleum demand decreased by 2.65% during the week ending August 30th. Domestic demand is up by 1.60% vs. one-year ago and demand is currently 6.51% above the five year average.

PRODUCTION:

Domestic production was lower for the week ending August 30th at 12.4 million barrels per day after the previous week’s record 12.5 million barrel mark. Domestic production is 12.72% above year ago levels. The number of operating oil drilling rigs in the US decreased by 4 from 742 to 738 on the week making a new near-term low and the lowest level since November 2017. The recent decline in US rig count is due to a pause in further investment in exploration and production. The growth in the number of drilled uncompleted wells (DUCS) has been flat to negative in 2019. This indicates that producers are putting more oil on the market and bringing more wells on-line but have slowed the pace of developing new wells. Currently, drilling activity has not kept up with the number of producing wells being brought into service since the number of DUC’s has been declining slightly. US domestic production has increased by 3,972,000 barrels per day (+47.13%) since the low on July 1, 2016.









Below is the one-year chart of spot diesel futures prices as of September 6th.



Below is the one-year chart of spot gasoline futures prices as of September 6th.

MARKET FACTORS & COMMENTARY:

: :  Petroleum inventories decreased for the week by 9.71 million barrels while inventories were expected to decrease by 4.64 million barrels on the week. The five-year average inventory decreased by 1.03 million barrels. Inventories decreased vs. expectations and vs. the five year average.

: :  The US/China trade dispute continues to be center stage in driving the price movement of oil markets. News that talks would reconvene in October gave support to the market price. However, a final deal satisfying all US requirements still seems a ways off despite increased optimism.

: :  A surprise decrease in US manufacturing activity increased the anxiety over a slowing economy and the drop in petroleum demand growth that that would cause.

: :  Fed Chair Jerome Powell continues to reassure the equity markets and by association the petroleum markets that the Fed is monitoring “significant risks” and that it will do its part to prevent or lessen the effects of any oncoming recession.

: :  Saudi Arabia named a new energy minister who indicated that the OPEC + Friends cuts will continue. This indication supported market price for petroleum as it reassured the market that supply from OPEC + Friends was more likely to remain constrained.

: :  The Stock market increased by =1.79% which is positive for general economic activity and is positive for petroleum prices and petroleum demand expectations.

: :  The US Dollar decreased by -0.53% on the week which is positive for petroleum price. Commodities are used as a hedge against inflation and against a falling dollar. A stronger dollar reduces the relative demand for commodities and prices decrease accordingly. Conversely, a weaker dollar increases relative demand for commodities and prices increase.

OPEC Production Five Year History – Up 200,000 barrels per day in August. This low level of OPEC production continues to be supportive of price. OPEC production remaining near the five year low cedes market share to US shale producers. This may also indicate OPEC’s limited ability to cut additional supplies.



SUPPLY & DEMAND:

The chart below shows supply and demand history and expectations as of September 2019. The chart shows the expectation of a slightly surplus market over the next four quarters. This forecast indicates more surplus over the next year than the August report. This is negative for price.

SEPTEMBER FORECAST



Below is the one-year chart of the US stock market as of September 6th



Below is the one-year chart of the US stock market as of September 6th



INVENTORIES:

During the week ended August 30th, total petroleum inventories decreased by 9.71 million barrels vs. a five year average decrease of 1.03 million barrels and vs. an expected decrease of 4.64 million barrels.  Inventories increased by 8.67 million barrels vs. the five year average and decreased by 5.07 million barrels vs. expectations.  Total inventories stand at 786.1 million barrels, down from 795.8 million barrels at the end of the previous week.  The five year average inventory is 786.3 million barrels, down from 787.3 million barrels at the end of the previous week.

Current inventories are -0.03% versus the five year average, a decrease on the week from +1.07%.



SPECULATION:

As of September 3rd, the net speculative long position in petroleum futures was 206,564,000 barrels, down 37,378,000 barrels (-15.32%) from the previous week.  Speculation decreased for the second week and represents 26.28% of domestic inventories. Speculation is 26.58% below its one year moving average. The corresponding spot month diesel futures price on September 3rd was 180.33 cents per gallon, down 1.26 cents per gallon from the prior week.

Diesel fuel price and size of speculative net long position in petroleum are 80.38% correlated over the past 52 weeks indicating that, on a statistical basis over the past year that 64.61% of diesel fuel price movements are explained by changes in level of speculation. The one-year correlation decreased slightly from the previous week.

The net speculative long position has been variable over the past year ranging between 134 million and 480 million barrels with an average of about 281 million barrels, which is down 5 million barrels on the week.



CONTACT:

Linwood Capital, LLC is an institutional fuel hedging management, advisory, and consulting firm. Linwood creates and manages customized fuel hedging programs for institutional consumers of petroleum and natural gas.