John Kemp News

02 Dec 2019

Fuel Market Calm ahead of IMO Changeover

AdobeStock / © 14KT Gold

Fears about a shortage of diesel and other middle distillates stemming from new marine pollution regulations have receded, with distillate premiums falling to some of the lowest levels for two years.From the start of 2020, ocean-going ships will be required to use low-sulphur fuels or employ exhaust gas cleaning systems, known has scrubbers, under pollution control rules approved by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).Fuel traders and shipowners have warned for several…

30 Apr 2019

Diesel Traders See Shortage, but not yet

File Image: AdobeStock / © Kasto

Gasoil traders expect the middle distillates market to stay well supplied until almost the end of 2019 before swinging into deficit with the introduction of new maritime fuel regulations.Calendar spreads for low-sulphur gasoil delivered to Europe's Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp hub are currently in contango through until October before shifting to backwardation from November onwards (https://tmsnrt.rs/2WgXabR).In futures markets, contango structures, where future contract prices are higher than front-month prices, are associated with expectations of adequate or rising inventories.

11 Feb 2019

Fund Buying Slows on Crude

© Pawin/AdobeStock

Hedge funds added more bullish positions in crude at the start of February but at a much slower pace than before, as optimism about OPEC output cuts was tempered by renewed anxiety about the U.S.-China trade talks.Hedge funds and other money managers increased their net long position in Brent crude futures and options for the eighth time in the last nine weeks but by just 1 million barrels.Fund managers added new short positions (+13 million barrels) for the week ended Feb. 5…

25 Oct 2018

Maritime Rule Change Stirs Fears of Diesel Shortage: Kemp

© dbvirago / Adobe Stock

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has so far resisted pressure to soften or postpone the implementation of new regulations requiring ships to use bunker fuels with a lower sulphur content from the start of 2020.That has prompted warnings from some analysts that the regulations will squeeze the availability of low-sulphur diesel and jet kerosene required by trucks, trains, aircraft, farmers and industry, resulting in big price increases.The regulations and any associated rise in fuel prices will occur in the run up to the next U.S.

23 Aug 2018

Freight Fuel Market Moves Back Towards Balance: Kemp

© TTstudio / Adobe Stock

The market for freight fuels is moving close to balance, after tightening significantly in 2017 and the first quarter of 2018, contributing to the recent stabilisation in crude oil prices.OECD stocks of middle distillate fuels, including road diesel, marine gasoil and jet fuel, totalled 513 million barrels at the end of June, according to the International Energy Agency (“Oil Market Report”, August 2018).Stocks have fallen compared with the slump years of 2015-2017 (when they…

02 Aug 2018

White House Escalates China Trade Dispute in hopes for Early Solution: Kemp

File Image: CREDIT Hapag Lloyd

The United States has adopted an "escalate to negotiate" strategy towards China, threatening a dramatic hike in tariffs to try to force a resumption of trade talks while the U.S. economy remains strong and as elections approach in November.U.S. President Donald Trump has reportedly rejected a plan to levy tariffs of 10 percent on an additional $200 billion of imports from China and ordered aides to prepare a proposal for tariffs at the higher rate of 25 percent.The levies are…

09 May 2018

Sanctions spell the end of OPEC output deal

© Douglas Knight / Adobe Stock

President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the nuclear agreement with Iran marks the end of the current output agreement between OPEC and its allies.OPEC is likely to insist the current agreement remains in effect, at least for now, but the prospective removal of several hundred thousand barrels per day of Iranian exports from the market will require a major adjustment.Saudi Arabia has already promised to "mitigate" the impact of any potential supply shortages, in conjunction with other suppliers and consumer countries…

26 Jan 2018

Fast-growing Global Trade Boosts Fuel Demand

File Image (CREDIT: Port of Portland, OR)

Freight movements in the United States and around the rest of the world are growing at some of the fastest rates this decade, which should provide a big boost for diesel consumption in 2018. In the United States, the volume of freight moved by road, rail, pipeline, barge and air between September and November was around 6 percent higher than in the same period a year earlier. Freight volumes are growing at some of the fastest rates since 2011, according to the freight transportation services index compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics (http://tmsnrt.rs/2DB9aLY).

02 Jan 2018

Hedging Energy Bets: The Case for a 2018 Oil Bull Run

© Renovacio/Adobe Stock

Hedge funds gamble OPEC will tighten oil market too much. Hedge funds are the most bullish about oil prices in years, expecting further gains even as prices touch multi-year highs and ignoring the risk linked to such a large concentration of positions. A record net long position has been accumulated by hedge funds and other money managers, amounting to 1,183 million barrels in the five biggest futures and options contracts covering crude, gasoline and heating oil. Portfolio managers held a record 1,328 million barrels of long positions in Brent, WTI, U.S. gasoline and U.S. heating oil on Dec.

27 Sep 2017

Global Trade Surge Fuel Oil Markets

Global trade is growing at the fastest rate for six years - which is both a symptom and a cause of the recovery in commodity markets. World trade volumes were up almost 5 percent year-on-year from May to July, according to estimates compiled by government economic planners in the Netherlands. Growth was four times faster than at the same point in 2016 (http://tmsnrt.rs/2y89NxC). Global trade and commodity markets are linked in a circular causal relationship, which is one of the most important in the macroeconomy and a key source of fluctuations in the business cycle. Commodities, from grains to minerals, metals and oil, are the largest item in global trade by tonnage, so the state of commodity markets has a major impact on world trade flows.

11 Sep 2017

Hedge Funds Watch U.S. Refinery Restarts

File Image (CREDIT: AdobeStock / (c) Jason Lee)

Hedge funds are betting crude oil stocks will adjust quickly to the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma but gasoline and distillate inventories may take more time to normalise. Hedge funds and other money managers increased their combined net long position in the five major petroleum contracts linked to crude, gasoline and heating oil by 46 million barrels in the week to Sept. 5, according to the latest regulatory and exchange data. Fund managers recovered some of their pre…

30 Jun 2017

US Oil Drillers Cut Rigs for First Week since January

© Stojanovic Milos / Adobe Stock

U.S. oil drillers cut rigs this week for the first time since January and the pace of additions slowed this quarter due to declines in crude prices despite an OPEC-led effort to cut production and end a multi-year supply glut. Analysts, however, noted the weekly decline in the rig count was likely just a brief pause in a drilling recovery expected to continue through at least 2019. Drillers cut two oil rigs in the week to June 30, bringing the total rig count down to 756, still more than double the 341 rigs in the same week a year ago…

13 Jun 2017

El Nino Signal is Weakening in the Pacific

The probability of El Nino, a warming of ocean surface temperatures in the eastern and central Pacific, developing this year has been downgraded by U.S. government forecasters as sea surface temperatures and wind speeds in the area remain close to their long-term averages. The Pacific saw a relatively rapid swing in late October from La Nina conditions - characterised as unusually cold temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean - to neutral or even slightly El Nino-leaning conditions by March. Since then, however, the oceanic and atmospheric signals pointing to a possible El Nino have all weakened. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) last week downgraded the probability of El Nino conditions being present in the fourth quarter of 2017, to just 36 percent.

05 Jun 2017

U.S. Natural Gas Prices Tumble as Coal Surges

File Image (credit Inland Marine)

U.S. natural gas prices have tumbled by more than 10 percent since late May as hedge funds start to liquidate a near-record bullish position accumulated in the expectation of a tighter market that failed to materialise. Hedge funds and other money managers reduced their combined net long position in the two main futures and options contracts linked to Henry Hub prices by 584 billion cubic feet in the week to May 30. Fund managers reduced their net long position by the largest amount in any one week since November 2016, after raising it by a cumulative 1,721 bcf during the previous 12 weeks.

25 May 2017

U.S. Freight Recovery Spurs Diesel Demand

File Image: CREDIT AEP

U.S. freight movements have started increasing again, which should help boost consumption of distillate fuel oil in 2017 and 2018. The tonnage of freight moved by road, rail, barge, pipeline and air cargo has been increasing year on year since October, after stagnating for much of 2015/16 (http://tmsnrt.rs/2qSDLAJ). Freight movements hit a new record in February, before slipping slightly in March, according to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics (http://tmsnrt.rs/2rTVx58). Most freight is hauled by equipment that uses diesel engines, or jet turbines in the case of air cargo.

23 May 2017

Should OPEC Worry About Contango and Backwardation?

"Backwardation is the solution" to OPEC's problem of how to raise output and revenues without sparking another shale boom, according to the influential oil research team at Goldman Sachs. Backwardation would allow low-cost oil producers in OPEC to sell their output at a higher price linked to the spot market while curbing growth from shale firms that sell at prices linked to the forward curve. Goldman's strategy aims to "share growth" between OPEC and shale firms to avoid another repeat of boom and bust in oil prices ("Backwardation is the solution", Goldman Sachs, May 22). The plan exploits differences in pricing behaviour between low-cost producers in OPEC that do not hedge and higher-cost shale drillers that hedge a substantial portion of their output.

04 May 2017

El Nino Conditions Are Developing in the Pacific

El Nino conditions are developing across the Pacific with an increasing probability that a full-fledged El Nino episode will occur during the second half of 2017. Pacific equatorial winds have slackened since the start of the year and a characteristic tongue of warm water has begun to form stretching from Peru towards the international dateline. Both are consistent with the development of El Nino and are likely to strengthen during the second and third quarters. The U.S. government’s Climate Prediction Center (CPC) last month forecast El Nino conditions would prevail by the end of the northern hemisphere summer, but put the probability at only 50 percent.

21 Mar 2017

US O&G Industry Reaps the Benefits of International Trade

© Alexandre / Adobe Stock

Rising exports have thrown a lifeline to U.S. shale producers and refiners, giving them an additional outlet at a time when the domestic market has been at risk of becoming saturated. The United States exported record quantities of natural gas, propane, gasoline, distillate fuel oil and light crude last year while continuing to import the heavy oils needed by its refineries. Gas exports increased by almost 30 percent in 2016 and have more than tripled in the last decade, limiting the build up of unused gas and supporting prices in recent months despite the warmest winter on record.

11 Mar 2017

OPEC's Hope for Goldilocks Price Fade: Kemp

File Image: CREDIT GearSTD AdobeStock

CERAWeek has exposed all the contradictions at the heart of OPEC’s attempt to rebalance the oil market without rekindling the shale boom or conceding too much market share to rivals. The oil industry conference in Houston started with a celebration of higher prices, progress towards drawing down global stockpiles, and optimism about the outlook for shale producers. But it ends with the biggest daily fall in prices for more than a year, fears that stocks are not declining as planned, and warnings that shale producers could cause a renewed slump if they increase output too fast.

09 Sep 2016

US Crude Stocks Plunge as Tankers Delay Arrival on Storm Warning: Kemp

U.S. crude oil inventories plunged by more than 14.5 million barrels in the week ending on Sept. 2, the largest weekly drop since 1999. The reasons for the drawdown are not hard to find with a modest acceleration in refinery processing rates and a sharp slowdown in crude imports. Crude imports fell from an average of 8.9 million barrels per day in the week ending Aug. 26 to just 7.1 million bpd in the week ending Sept. 2, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Crude imports fell by a total of almost 13 million barrels compared with the previous week, accounting for most of the reported decline in inventories. Crude…

29 Apr 2016

Oil Rally is Not Just About Hedge Funds: Kemp

Oil prices are becoming dangerously overheated as speculators anticipate a rebalancing of supply and demand that has barely started, according to many oil analysts. "Even as oil rallies, analysts have barely nudged up their price forecasts as they worry that crude's recent gains might not be sustainable," notes the Wall Street Journal ("Analysts just aren't buying the oil rally", April 28). Many fear hedge funds are pushing up oil prices prematurely, which will lead to a renewed crash when the bubble bursts, as it did after the last big run-up in prices between January and May 2015. Hedge funds and other money managers have accumulated a record net long position in Brent and WTI futures and options, betting on a further rise in prices equivalent to 656 million barrels of crude.

04 Apr 2016

Research Vessel Neil Armstrong Joins WHOI Fleet

R/V Neil Armstrong sails into San Francisco Harbor at the conclusion of the first leg of its inaugural voyage in late 2015. (Image by Aerial Productions, ©Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

I woke up the first night out of Anacortes, Washington, when the ship dropped out from under me and I levitated off my bunk. Then came the sound of shuffleboard in the conference room one deck above. The only trouble was, there's no shuffleboard on the research vessel Neil Armstrong. It was Halloween 2015 in the Northeast Pacific. We were in the first hours of the first voyage of the newest ship in the U.S. academic research fleet, and we were already plowing through 15-foot waves. But the ship’s motion made it feel more like we were facing much heavier seas.

17 Mar 2016

Oil Price Rise: Perhaps Wrong, Not Irrational

The oil futures curve is flattening as a wave of bullishness washing across the market raises the price of near-dated contracts faster than that of contracts for deferred delivery. Brent for delivery in May 2016 has risen more than $10 per barrel since early February, while prices for delivery in 2017 are up less than $7 over the same period. The discount for Brent crude delivered in May 2016 compared with the average of 2017, a price structure known as contango, has narrowed from $9 to well under $6 per barrel since Feb. 11. The shape of the futures curve is intimately connected with expectations about supply, demand, stocks and the availability of storage ("Brent contango is hard to square with missing barrels", Reuters, March 10).

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