PIRA Energy Group's Weekly Oil Market Recap for the Week Ending January 25th, 2015

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The Outlook for 2014 Global Oil Demand Growth Was Revised Down Significantly

NYC-based PIRA Energy Group reports that the outlook for 2014 global oil demand growth was revised down significantly. In the U.S., stocks built this past week for the seventh consecutive week of inventory builds that have uncharacteristically occurred in the middle of the winter. In Japan, crude stocks draw, but finished products build. Specifically, PIRA’s analysis of the oil market fundamentals has revealed the following:

Why Was 2014 Oil Demand Growth So Weak?

The outlook for 2014 global oil demand growth was revised down significantly over the course of the year. Some of the deterioration in the outlook since January 2014 can be attributed to slower economic growth, but the 0.5 MMB/D over-prediction of demand growth from June 2014 cannot. The lion's share of the discrepancy occurred in Japan (0.2 MMB/D) and the U.S. (0.2 MMB/D) – the demand forecast for the developing world was almost perfect. The source of the forecast errors in Japan and the U.S. appear to be for a number of reasons unrelated to longer term trends.

Another New High in U.S. Commercial Stocks

Stocks built this past week for the seventh consecutive week of inventory builds that have uncharacteristically occurred in the middle of the winter. Inventories are at all time highs and are now 119 million barrels, or 11.4% higher than last year. Crude stocks had the largest weekly build in over ten years and are now 13.3% higher than last year. Product inventories are 9.4% higher than last year but the bulk of that is outside the four major products.

Japanese Crude Stocks Draw, but Finished Products Build

Crude runs rose fractionally on the week and crude imports declined sufficiently to produce a crude stock draw. Finished product stocks built, with all the major products other than kerosene showing an increase, but nothing dramatic. Demands on gasoline and gasoil were modestly higher, but stocks built for both due to a rise in yields. The kerosene draw rate throttled back on the week as yield rose and demand was slightly softer. Indicative refining margins remain strong.

Prompt Demand Sends Asian LPG Flying

The action this week was in the Asian LPG markets. Prices roared higher on stronger prompt demand, particularly out of Japan, and thin immediate availability. Cash propane prices ripped $100/MT higher for cargoes arriving 2nd half February to the highest levels this year. Butane prices also rose in illiquid cash markets to be called at a $30 premium to C3. Saudi CP futures gained, with current bets on a $25 improvement in February CPs. However, steep backwardation in the CP and propane FEI curves hints that the prompt strength in Asian LPG markets may not persist for too much longer.

Ethanol Prices Fall

The week ending January 16, U.S. ethanol prices tumbled to their lowest values since June 2005. Stocks were the highest and manufacturing margins were the poorest since January 2013.

Ethanol inventories Rise to Two-year High

U.S. ethanol production rose to 979 MB/D last week, up slightly from 978 MB/D during the preceding week. Inventories built by 158 thousand barrels to 20.4 million barrels, the highest in nearly two years.

Death of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Unlikely to Alter Oil Policy

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia died January 23. Crown Prince Salman has assumed the throne, and Prince Muqrin was named the new Crown Prince. Furthermore, the succession plan now appears to include a younger generation. PIRA believes the change in leadership is unlikely to alter Saudi Arabia’s current oil policy of letting the market dictating prices and protecting market share.

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.


PIRA Energy Group
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New York, NY 10016

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