The Week Ahead For Crude Oil, Gas and NGLs Markets – Nov. 19, 2018

The Week Ahead For Crude Oil, Gas and NGLs Markets – Nov. 19, 2018

CRUDE OIL

  • US crude oil inventories increased substantially, by 10.3 MMBbl, according to the weekly EIA report. Gasoline and distillate inventories decreased 1.4 MMBbl and 3.6 MMBbl, respectively. Total petroleum inventories showed a decrease of 1.4 MMBbl. US crude oil production increased 100 MBbl/d from the previous week. Crude oil imports were down 87 MBbl/d to an average of 7.5 MMBbl/d versus the week prior.
  • Prices continued declines, with a lower close for the sixth consecutive week. Bullish expectations of Iranian sanctions have turned bearish, with the US announcing waivers for eight countries (China, India, Japan, Italy, Greece, Turkey, South Korea, and Taiwan) allowing purchases of Iranian crude for the next six months.
  • OPEC announced it was expecting significantly less demand growth in 2019, similar to the IEA assessment for demand. With no imminent resolution to US and China trade disputes, near-term demand looks bearish.
  • The latest CFTC report shows Managed Money shorts increasing by 15,569 contracts, now sitting at a level that has not been established since October 2017. Managed Money long positions, surprisingly, increased by 3,081 contracts.
  • Prices fell below the February ’18 lows ($58.07), accelerating declines to the November ’17 lows. The past six weeks have done significant damage to the bullish WTI run of 2018. News that OPEC and Russia will reevaluate their production increases in the future may bring limited support. Russia announced that it does not plan to change production plans at this time, and OPEC will reexamine future production plans at the meeting in Vienna on Dec. 6.
  • Drillinginfo continues to believe the long-term range will occur between $60 and $65 for an extended period of time, with potential brief extensions under $60.

NATURAL GAS

  • Dry production decreased 0.48 Bcf/d last week, with most of the losses in the Gulf and Southern regions. Canadian imports increased 0.67 Bcf/d, with demand in the Northeast increasing due to declining temperatures.
  • Cold weather brought increases to Res/Com, showing a gain of 14.27 Bcf/d. Power and Industrial demand increased 3.76 Bcf/d and 1.25 Bcf/d, respectively. LNG exports increased 0.47 Bcf/d, and Mexican exports decreased by 0.18 Bcf/d. Overall, the market gained 0.19 Bcf/d in supply while demand increased 20.1 Bcf/d.
  • The storage report was an injection of 39 Bcf. This should be the final injection of the season.
  • According to the CFTC report, Managed Money longs increased by 17,803 contracts, while the shorts decreased by 16,204 contracts. This points to short covering and new length entering the market as prices rallied from $3.55 to $4.11. However, it does little to explain the rare blowout in prices on Wednesday and the subsequent collapse the following day. This volatility has not been seen in over a decade, representing the highest daily range since the Amaranth (hedge fund collapse) in 2006. Rumors surfaced that the volatility was due to a hedge fund unwinding a position of long crude/short natural gas.
  • Open interest in natural gas declined by 101,994 contracts, while open interest in crude declined by 77,960 contracts, as prices plummeted from $59.30 to a low of $54.75. Markets rising on declines in open interest signal short covering, while markets rising on open interest declines signal length liquidation. The daily decline in open interest in natural gas has never been experienced before, nor has the daily volume explosion on Wednesday of 1,602,674 contracts exchanging hands. Those two market internals strongly suggest aberration and adjustments in positions from trade organizations.
  • Price gains established early in the week reflect an “orderly” adjustment to changing fundamentals—modest short covering and gains in speculative length. Volatility should be expected in the coming week, but last week’s price action will be hard to duplicate. The strong close on Friday, after retesting support around $4.00, suggests the market has not concluded rallying with the forecast changes.

NGLs

  • Mont Belvieu ethane has averaged 32 cpg through November, down from an average of 41 cpg in October, as MLPs such as Targa and Enterprise continue to pull levers to increase fractionation space.
  • Mont Belvieu propane has averaged 77 cpg through November, down from October’s 96 cpg, likely lower due to recent inventory gains.
  • The EIA reported a draw of 0.8 MMBbl in this past week’s propane inventories. Propane stocks now sit at 83.8 MMBbl, approximately 6.6 higher than this time last year and 0.8 MMBbl lower than the five-year average.
Injection Meets Expectations, First Draw Expected Next Week

Injection Meets Expectations, First Draw Expected Next Week

Natural gas storage inventories increased 39 Bcf for the week ending November 9, according to the EIA’s weekly report. This week’s injection is slightly above market expectations, which were 36 Bcf. Sticking with the trend over the past couple of weeks, this week’s build comes from the Midwest and the South Central, which accounted for 36 Bcf of the 39 Bcf injection.

At the time of writing, the December 2018 contract was trading at $4.140/MMBtu, ~$0.697/MMBtu below the December 2018 close of $4.837 yesterday.

Working gas storage inventories now sit at 3.247 Tcf, which is 528 Bcf below last year and 601 Bcf below the five-year average.

The December 2018 contract has traded in a wide range in November, from $3.237/MMBtu to $4.837/MMBtu. Prices soared again this week, with the December 2018 contract closing at the November high of $4.837/MMBtu yesterday; the December ‘18 contract has a closing average $4.24/MMBtu so far this week. The price volatility for December can be explained somewhat by the fundamentals—weather, storage levels, production, and demand—but there is also some thought that the financial markets are playing a role that caused the December contract to reach the highs yesterday. The thought is that hedge funds were long crude and short natural gas for the winter, which have historically been profitable. However, with gas trending up and crude trending down, these hedge funds were forced to unwind their positions to avoid any further loss.

See the chart below for projections of the end-of-season storage inventories as of November 1, the end of the injection season.

This Week in Fundamentals
The summary below is based on Bloomberg’s flow data and DI analysis for the week ending November 15, 2018.

Supply:

  • Dry gas production decreased 0.40 Bcf/d on the week. Production decreases in the Mountain Region (-0.30 Bcf/d) and the South Central Region (-0.18 Bcf/d) are the main contributors to the drop in production. Within the Mountain Region, a majority of the movement came from New Mexico (-0.24 Bcf/d). Texas (-0.37 Bcf/d), Louisiana (+0.12 Bcf/d), and the GoM (+0.11 Bcf/d) are the main drivers of the South Central Region change.
  • Canadian imports increased 0.72 Bcf/d for the week. Roughly 0.41 Bcf/d of the Canadian import increase comes from additional receipts on Iroquois flowing into New York.

Demand:

  • Domestic natural gas demand increased 21.63 Bcf/d week over week. The cold weather caused heating demand to increase, causing Res/Com to increase 16.44 Bcf/d. Power and industrial demand also increased 3.74 Bcf/d and 1.46 Bcf/d, respectively.
  • LNG exports increased 0.45 Bcf/d week over week, while Mexican exports decreased by 0.17 Bcf/d.

Total supply is up 0.32 Bcf/d, and total demand is up 22.53 Bcf/d week over week. With the increase in demand outpacing the increase in supply, the EIA is expected to report the first draw of the season. The ICE Financial Weekly Index report is currently expecting a draw of 118 Bcf for next week. Last year for the same week was a draw of 46 Bcf, while the five-year average is a draw of 49 Bcf.

Prices Are Up Despite Of Crude Oil Build

Prices Are Up Despite Of Crude Oil Build

US crude oil stocks posted a large increase of 10.3 MMBbl last week. Gasoline and distillate inventories decreased 1.4 MMBbl and 3.6 MMBbl, respectively. Yesterday afternoon, API reported a large crude oil build of 8.8 MMBbl, while reporting a gasoline build of 0.18 MMBbl and a distillate draw of 3.2 MMBbl. Analysts were expecting a smaller crude oil build of 3.0 MMBbl. The most important number to keep an eye on, total petroleum inventory levels, posted a decrease of 1.4 MMBbl. For a summary of the crude oil and petroleum product stock movements, see the table below.

US crude oil production increased 100 MBbl/d last week, per EIA. Crude oil imports were down 87 MBbl/d last week, to an average of 7.5 MMBbl/d. Refinery inputs averaged 16.4 MMBbl/d (24 MBbl/d more than last week), leading to a utilization rate of 90.1%. The reaction to the report has been mixed as significant crude oil build is pressuring prices, while the decline in total petroleum stocks and news regarding OPEC and Russia potentially introducing supply cuts in 2019 are giving support to prices. Prompt-month WTI was trading up $0.66/Bbl, at $56.91/Bbl at the time of writing.

Prices extended their losses and sank on Tuesday dipping below the $56/Bbl mark to their lowest year-to-date. WTI prices have now fallen for 12 consecutive sessions. This is the longest losing streak for WTI since it started being traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Both benchmarks have fallen more than 20 percent since hitting their four-year highs in early October. The WTI market has now shifted its sentiment to bearish, flipping from being a speculator-driven bull market due to anticipation of a supply shortage from Iranian sanctions to being a fundamentally oversupplied market due to rapidly rising supply levels and a weaker demand growth.

The announcement of Iranian sanctions gave no support to prices; to the contrary, it drove them down due to the temporary waivers granted to eight countries (China, India, Japan, Italy, Greece, Turkey, South Korea, and Taiwan). This decision by the US government caused a shift in sentiment, as OPEC and Russia had agreed in June to produce more crude in order to offset the anticipated declines by Iranian sanctions. OPEC (led by Saudi Arabia) and Russia have increased production to historical levels since then. US production has also increased to historical highs, which is also contributing to the supply surplus. The rising supply levels from OPEC, Russia, and the US, as well as a weaker demand outlook, now have the market convinced that a supply glut will materialize moving into 2019.

Although OPEC and Russia had agreed to increase output, the recent price crash caused them to backtrack and possibly reverse their decision in 2019. On Sunday, OPEC and Russia signaled a potential joint production cut in order to prevent a global supply glut. However, a decision was not made, as Russia’s energy minister, Alexander Novak, said it was too early to make a decision to reverse course. OPEC will be re-grouping in Vienna on December 6 to discuss and determine its next move in terms of potential supply cuts.

Although news about OPEC potentially reducing supply levels was a bullish headline, it had no effect on prices, instead prices saw further declines following a tweet from President Donald Trump urging Saudi Arabia and OPEC to stay the course and continue producing to keep the oil prices down Another factor that pressured prices despite the bullish OPEC headline was OPEC projecting significantly less demand growth in 2019, just like IEA has projected, which led prices down to their lowest level of the year.

New selling from the speculative shorts and an increase in producer selling have pressured prices into extremely over-sold levels. Prices already dipped below the lows of 2018, falling below $56/Bbl. This type of selling usually abates with prices likely to bounce off the lows and retrace some of last week’s declines. The highs of last week at $64.14/Bbl are the first target, while the respected 200-day average of $67.36/Bbl will be challenged next. Prices will continue to be under pressure with the current global supply levels and a weaker demand growth. The bullish headlines, such as OPEC supply cuts or anything relating to Iranian production declines, will give support to prices. Regardless of any bounce, the market has lost a significant amount of its bullish bias. Drillinginfo continues to believe the long-term range will occur between $60/Bbl and $65/Bbl for an extended period of time, with the short-term range being between $55/Bbl and $60/Bbl as market waits to hear news from the next OPEC meeting.

Petroleum Stocks Chart

The Week Ahead For Crude Oil, Gas and NGLs Markets – Nov. 12, 2018

The Week Ahead For Crude Oil, Gas and NGLs Markets – Nov. 12, 2018

CRUDE OIL

  • US crude oil inventories increased by 5.8 MMBbl, according to the weekly EIA report. Gasoline inventories increased 1.9 MMBbl while distillates inventories decreased, falling 3.5 MMBbl/d. Total petroleum inventories showed an increase of 4.8 MMBbl. US crude oil production increased 400 MBbl/d from the previous week (per EIA). Crude oil imports were up 195 MBbl/d to an average of 7.5 MMBbl/d versus the week prior.
  • The highly anticipated Iranian sanctions were formally announced last Monday. However, waivers for China, India, Japan, Italy, Greece, Turkey, South Korea and Taiwan allow these countries to purchase Iranian crude for the next six months. This brought additional declines rather than gains.
  • Price gains of the last few months were facilitated by expectations that sanctions and continuously declining Venezuelan production would reduce supply. However, sentiment has shifted to bearish with sanction waivers and supply data (accelerated growth by Russia and OPEC, especially Saudi Arabia) pointing to a potential surplus.
  • The market continues to digest the tariff issues between China and the US and the effect on global economic and demand growth. Over the weekend, Saudi Arabia was re-evaluating their recent production increases and how to move forward considering the supply surplus possibility.
  • The latest CFTC report (dated Nov 6th) had the Managed Money long positions continuing to liquidate, decreasing 13,332 contracts. The Managed Money short positions increased by 25,009 contracts, as the speculative short trades are expecting the declines to continue.
  • New selling from the speculative shorts and an increase in producer selling has pressured prices into extremely over-sold levels. Additional declines are likely to challenge the lows of 2018 at $58.07. This type of selling usually abates with prices likely to bounce off the lows and retrace some of last week’s declines. The highs of last week at $64.14 are the first target, and may challenge the respected 200-day average of $67.36.
  • Regardless of any bounce, the market has lost a significant amount of its bullish bias. Drillinginfo continues to believe the long-term range will occur between $60 and $65 for an extended period of time, with potential brief extensions under $60.

NATURAL GAS

  • Dry production decreased by 0.53 Bcf/d week-on-week, with most of the losses from the Gulf and Southern regions. Canadian imports increased slightly, increasing 0.01 Bcf/d.
  • Cold weather last week showed demand gains in the Res/Com market, increasing 5.12 Bcf/d. Power demand declined 0.82 Bcf/d, and industrial demand increased 0.37 Bcf/d. LNG and Mexican exports decreased 0.16 Bcf/d and 0.04 Bcf/d, respectively. For the week, supply fell 0.52 Bcf/d and demand increased 4.78 Bcf/d.
  • The storage report last week came in with an injection of 65 Bcf. The bearish release could not brunt the gains established early in the week. The strong Res/Com demand coming in the next two weeks has traders nervous about the storage through the winter.
  • According to the CFTC report (dated Nov 6th), the Managed Money long positions increased 17,273 contracts while the short positions decreased by 22 contracts. The early week price action resembled short covering, but the lack of speculative shorts entering new positions is surprising. Adding to the confusion, the market set an all-time high in total open interest on Oct 4th (prices at $3.129). The market has shed over 178,000 contracts in total open interest while prices have risen over $3.72.
  • The gains made last week left a gap in prices from $3.313 to $3.487 but closed a gap that has remained in natural gas prices between $3.568 and $3.69 since early January 2017. By closing above those levels on Friday, trade is suggesting higher prices are coming. Market internals are signaling extremely over-bought conditions in addition to higher prices, with declining open interest. Look for prices to retrace some, or all, of Friday’s gains and test support around $3.50. Should prices ignore current momentum indicators and rise, last week’s high of $3.824 up to the Dec 2016 high of $3.994 will become the targets.

NGLs

  • Enterprise is increasing its fractionation capabilities at existing plants. The company announced several projects designed to provide an additional 55 MBbl/d of frac capacity at existing facilities in Texas and Louisiana. Projects include construction of 21 miles of new pipeline, conversion of 65 miles of a natural gas pipeline to NGL service, and a recommissioning of its Tebone frac in Ascension Parish. The pipeline work will be completed in Q3’19, and Tebone is expected in Q1’19.
  • EnLink announced an unlocking of 30-35 MBbl/d of fractionation capacity in the Gulf Coast through increasing pipeline capacity, expected Q2’19.
  • Targa reported earnings last week, and management hinted that they may have similar ideas on the drawing board to expand their system as their peers have done. They also announced efforts to expand their LPG export capabilities at Galena Park by about 50%; Galena Park currently is capable of exporting 7 MMBbl/month.
  • The EIA reported a build of 1.5 MMBbl in this past week’s inventories. Propane stocks now sit at 84.5 MMBbl, approximately 6.2 MMBbl higher than this time last year and 0.6 MMBbl lower than the five-year average.
Injection Beats Expectation, Storage Draw Expected Soon

Injection Beats Expectation, Storage Draw Expected Soon

Natural gas storage inventories increased 65 Bcf for the week ending Nov. 2, according to the EIA’s weekly report. This week’s injection is above market expectations, which were 59 Bcf. The majority of this week’s build again comes from the Midwest and the South Central, which accounted for 54 Bcf of the 65 Bcf injection.

At the time of writing, the December 2018 contract was trading at $3.532/MMBtu, slightly below the December ‘18 close yesterday of $3.555.

Working gas storage inventories now sit at 3.208 Tcf, which is 580 Bcf below last year and 621 Bcf below the 5-year average.

So far during November, the December ’18 contract has traded in a range of $3.237/MMBtu and $3.567/MMBtu. Prices soared this week, with the December ’18 contract closing at the November high of $3.567/MMBtu on Monday, a jump of ~$0.28/MMBtu from the close on Nov. 2. The drastic increase in prices resulted from the past weekend’s change in the weather forecast, where the temperature outlook changed from mild to cold across the Midwest and Northeast. The weather forecast change has produced what is expected to be the first draw of the season for the week ending Nov. 16, currently expected to be 72 Bcf, according to the ICE Financial Weekly Index report.

See the chart below for projections of the end-of-season storage inventories as of Nov. 1, the end of the injection season.

This Week in Fundamentals

The summary below is based on Bloomberg’s flow data and DI analysis for the week ending Nov. 8, 2018

Supply:

  • Dry gas production decreased 0.62 Bcf/d on the week. A majority of the decrease can be attributed to production decreases in the South Central Region (-0.33 Bcf/d), mainly Louisiana (-0.29 Bcf/d). Other contributors to the decrease were the Mountain Region (-0.16 Bcf/d) and the Northeast (-0.14 Bcf/d).
  • Canadian Imports decreased 0.15 Bcf/d for the week.

Demand:

  • Domestic natural gas demand increased 1.51 Bcf/d week-over-week. ResCom increased 2.84 Bcf/d, while Power demand decreased 1.58 Bcf/d. Industrial demand increased 0.25 Bcf/d.
  • LNG exports decreased 0.04 Bcf/d week-over-week. Mexican Exports also decreased 0.02 Bcf/d.

Total supply is down 0.77 Bcf/d, and total demand is up 1.26 Bcf/d week-over-week. With the increase in demand and the decrease in supply, expect EIA to report a weaker injection next week. The ICE Financial Weekly Index report is currently expecting an injection of 38 Bcf for next week. Last year for the same week was a draw of 18 Bcf, while the 5-year average is an injection of 6 Bcf.