Crude: No Cushing cushion

With the Trump Administration working toward zero Iranian exports by November, Libyan oil supplies at risk due to clashes with militias, and crashing supply from Venezuela, reports of tightening U.S. supply is keeping oil on edge. Crude oil price continued its drive, hitting $74 a barrel for the first time since that fateful OPEC meeting in November 2014. That was the meeting where OPEC declared a misguided production war that caused oil prices to crash. Now we are on the other side of the momentum indicator as prices are rising with a bullet.

Supply fears are rising after a report by private forecaster Genscape showed that supplies in at the biggest U.S. storage complex in Cushing, Okla., drained once again falling by 3.215 million barrels to a multiyear low 29,956,463 million barrel. That drop means that we are getting close to a level where supply in the storage hub is so low that they will not be able to supply refiners with much oil. They need enough to stay operational. That lack of a Cushing cushion and U.S. refiners demanding more crude is causing prices to spike. The report caused a surge in oil prices and the Trump State Department tried to cool the passions. 

Reuters reported that the United States is prepared to work with countries on a case-by-case basis to help them reduce imports of Iranian oil as Washington prepares to re-impose sanctions against Tehran in November, a State Department official said on Thursday, suggesting the Trump Administration could offer waivers. A senior State Department official said this week that countries will need to cut their imports of Iranian oil to zero by November and exemptions are unlikely. Secretary Pompeo met with the Department of State with Saudi Minister of Energy, Industry, and Mineral Resources Khalid al-Falih. They discussed energy security and other issues of mutual concern.

Yet, that is not enough to ease concerns. Saudi Arabia is being asked to raise production to make up the difference. Also, the Trump Administration is asking Saudi Arabia to collude with Russia to fill the void of Iranian supply. In Fact, Russia and Saudi Arabia are together on oil policy, which is strange because Russia is a strong ally with Iran. Oil politics and regular politics creates strange bedfellows.

We said we could see new highs on oil by the Fourth of July! Normally we will see a correction around or just after the holiday. While our earlier prediction in the beginning of the year, that we would see oil at $80 pe rbarrel is on track, we could see some pullback. Still, with the dollar showing signs of a top, oil could see a test of $75.

The dollar is falling on news of a deal on Migrants in Europe. As reported by Bloomberg, the Stoxx Europe 600 Index and U.S. futures both wobbled before recovering following a report from Axios that President Donald Trump has repeatedly told top White House officials he wants to withdraw the U.S. from the WTO. Treasury yields ticked higher, while the dollar declined a second day. The euro gained the most in a month and Italian 10-year government bonds rose after European Union leaders agreed to a package of measures to stem the flow of migrants, easing concern over a standoff between Italy and the rest of the trading block. A report that the ECB is considering reinvesting in longer-dated bonds also helped the mood.

Make sure you are hedged with gasoline and diesel. The products have lagged oil and will catch up. Small businesses may be hurt if they don’t have some protection. While seasonally, we should see some price relief the risks are still high for price spikes.

We are having a heat wave and it is showing in the natural gas market. Air conditioners are humming leading to massive power burns. Thank goodness that we are producing a record amount of gas because we are seeing record demand. MarketWatch reported that the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported Thursday that domestic supplies of natural gas rose by 66 billion cubic feet for the week ended June 22. Analysts polled by S&P Global Platts had forecasted a climb of 74 billion cubic feet. The data, however, included an upward revision, so stocks for the week ended June 15 rose by 95 billion cubic feet, instead of the previously reported 91 billion. Total stocks now stand at 2.074 trillion cubic feet, down 735 billion cubic feet from a year ago, and 501 billion below the five-year average. 

Platts reported that Modeled U.S. production surpassed 79.8 Bcf/d on Sunday, setting the new record high, S&P Global Platts Analytics data shows. During the past week, U.S. production has been exceptionally strong, averaging 79.4 Bcf/d, with six of the highest output days on record.