PIRA Energy Group's Weekly Oil Market Recap for the Week Ending August 10, 2014

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July Stock Decline at Cushing Strengthens WTI

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There is currently a crude surplus in the Atlantic Basin which has weighed on relative prices and narrowed light-sweet crude premiums.

NYC-based PIRA Energy Group reports that the July stock decline at Cushing strengthens WTI. In the U.S., there was largest weekly stock draw since January. In Japan, crude runs and stocks rose. Specifically, PIRA’s analysis of the oil market fundamentals has revealed the following:

July Stock Decline at Cushing Strengthens WTI

Stock levels for crude oil at Cushing dropped below 20 million barrels last month, for the first time since 2008. With logistical constraints still in place throughout much of the Midcontinent, most crude grades weakened relative to WTI, and even the Dated Brent premium shrank. However, the LLS premium strengthened, as Gulf Coast crude stocks dropped due to higher refinery runs.

Largest Weekly Stock Draw Since January

Overall U.S. commercial oil inventories fell this past week with a large product stock decline (the first since March) and a crude inventory decline. Crude stocks have fallen for six consecutive weeks. The large product inventory decline was supported by the strongest reported demand of the year. Overall inventories are now back below last year by 1.3 million barrels, with gasoline and distillate down roughly 10 and 2 million barrels, respectively.

Japanese Crude Runs and Crude Stocks Rise

Runs continued to rise in line with declining maintenance activity. Crude imports increased and crude stocks posted a modest build. Finished product stocks rose slightly. Gasoline demand fell back but lower yield allowed for a small stock draw. Gasoil demand was higher, but stocks still built on higher yield. Refining margins remain quite weak with the gasoline crack posting another sharp decline.

A Statistical Analysis of Cushing Crude Stocks and Storage Capacity Utilization

Different expressions of Cushing fundamentals, such a percent of storage capacity utilized, can have better relationships to WTI 1st – 2nd spreads than outright Cushing stocks. Over time, the strength in the correlation between Cushing fundamentals and WTI spreads has changed. Cushing fill ratios at either extreme of the historical range drive non-linear spread behavior.

Aramco Announces Crude Price Differentials for September

Saudi Arabia's formula prices for September were just released. Prices into the U.S. were cut, against the ASCI benchmark, across the board after two straight months at record highs. Pricing into Europe and the Med against the Bwave benchmark was raised. In Asia, not surprisingly, terms were made more generous.

BULLETIN: Market Dynamics Reflecting a New Reality

There is currently a crude surplus in the Atlantic Basin which has weighed on relative prices and narrowed light-sweet crude premiums. The development of this surplus during peak season Atlantic Basin runs and North Sea maintenance has caught a market by surprise typically conditioned for tightness at this time. Many people trade off historical relationships and expect them to continue. But supply/demand changes transform markets, even though it takes time for these markets to fully absorb the new reality.

Mt Belvieu Prices Stay Strong

The U.S. LPG complex remained strong in the face of falling energy prices worldwide. Cash propane at Mt Belvieu strengthened by over 2% to 102.4¢/gal. Propane prices dipped below $1 early in the week, falling in sympathy with oil prices. Prices have rallied since Wednesday’s stocks report, as inventory increases have been decreasing in size. The prospect of a large crop drying season is also acting as a tailwind for prices.

Ethanol Prices Plunge

U.S. ethanol prices fell sharply the week ending August 1 after the DOE’s latest supply report showed that inventories had risen to a 16-month high the prior week. As a result, ethanol manufacturing margins were slightly lower.

The information above is part of PIRA Energy Group's weekly Energy Market Recap - which alerts readers to PIRA’s current analysis of energy markets around the world as well as the key economic and political factors driving those markets.

Click here for additional information on PIRA’s global energy commodity market research services.

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