A few days ago, the Maran Apollo, a 1,100-feet long oil tanker, left the U.S Gulf of Mexico for the Chinese port of Rizhao hauling a cargo of two million barrels of U.S. crude. Sitting for almost two months, the supertanker held demand-less crude during the coronavirus outbreak. This crude sitting on the tanker is known as medium-heavy sour crude and is now in high demand because of its higher content in sulfur and denseness. Sour crude is typically from Canada and the U.S. Gulf Coast whereas West Texas Intermediate (WTI) is a “sweet” crude oil. WTI, which is typically lighter and is less expensive to produce. Known as “sour” which is typically undesirable for both processing and end-product quality, it’s the kind of oil that Saudi Arabia and its allies produce. Urals of Russia and Arab Light from Saudi Arabia are normally two of the most widely consumed in today’s market, but crude is in increasingly short supply due to record output cuts by the two nations and their allies.
Oil prices rose by more than 1 percent on Monday, lifted by optimism that talks could soon resolve the trade war between the United States and China, while supply cuts by major producers also supported the market.
The Gulf Coast is being battered by strong winds and heavy rains courtesy of Tropical Storm Gordon, which hit the Louisiana-Alabama-Mississippi coastline Tuesday night. As the storm approached land, the winds increased speeds and threatened to be categorized as a fully-fledged hurricane. Meteorologists are predicting up to 1 foot of rain and inland flooding from Mississippi to Arkansas.
There’s been a lot of talk about the U.S. increasing its domestic crude oil production for the sake of exportation, but where exactly is that crude oil being shipped to? A large portion of the exports will be going to the world’s fifth-largest oil importer, South Korea. South Korean imports of U.S. crude are expected to hit all-time highs in September and October, with 6 million barrels coming in each month.
Early in 2018, United States crude oil production was around 9.492 million barrels per day. Since that time, U.S. crude output has remained above the 10 million barrel a day mark and currently stands around 10.7 million over the last month. The rapid increase in U.S. production is due to the thriving shale industry. However, there are some concerns over the Permian Basin, the United States largest shale region, with limited pipeline transportation.
On May 22nd we were hoping for a market correction prior to the holiday weekend. On that day the front month NYMEX RBOB contract settled at $2.2636. Climbing from May 2nd, close @ $2.0803. A whooping $0.18 price move inflicting severe pain on your local gas station distributor leaving retail gasoline margins negative in some markets and begging the question, who wants to blink first and raise prices?
June 22nd marks the next meeting of the OPEC producers to be held in Vienna. Moving into the second half of the year it is highly uncertain if a global glut has ended.
On May 22nd WTI Crude nearly reached $73 / barrel and since then prices have dipped almost 10%.