Oklahoma Oil Hub Bucks National Trend
(The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the attributed sources and do not necessarily reflect the position of Rigzone or the author.)
The intersection of multiple oil pipelines and the home of extensive oil storage facilities, Cushing, Okla., is the delivery point for West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil. As one of Rigzone’s regular oil market-watchers points out, something happened recently in the oil hub that ran counter to trends elsewhere in the United States. To find out what stood out at Cushing, along with other insights, read on for the latest review of hits and misses in the oil and gas market.
Rigzone: What were some market expectations that actually occurred during the past week – and which expectations did not?
Tom Seng, Director – School of Energy Economics, Policy and Commerce, University of Tulsa’s Collins College of Business: Oil prices are ending the week with a loss as the coronavirus news overtakes a bullish inventory report. The news that President Trump has tested positive for COVID-19 only adds to concerns that the virus is spreading and increasing, both here in the U.S. and globally. The U.S. stock market has moved lower today after the Dow peaked at 28,000 earlier in the week as traders weighed the President’s news in terms of the upcoming election as well as a sign that this pandemic is far from over. And, a sagging U.S. dollar has done nothing to support crude prices.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Weekly Petroleum Status Report showed a decline of 2 million barrels last week, the ninth weekly decline out of the last 10 weeks. At 492 million barrels, stored crude is at the lowest level since April. Wall Street Journal analysts had forecasted an 800,000-barrel increase while S&P analysts predicted a gain of 1.9 million barrels. The American Petroleum Institute (API) reported a drop of 830,000 barrels on Tuesday. But, inventories of crude are still at 13 percent above the five-year average for this time of year.
Total motor gasoline inventories increased by 700,000 barrels and are now down to about one percent above the five-year average for this time of year. Distillates, which include heating oil, fell by 1.2 million barrels but remain about 21 percent ahead of their five-year average five weeks before the start of the winter heating season. Refinery utilization rebounded a full point to 75.8 percent, which was a surprise. The key Cushing, Okla., hub saw an increase of 1.8 million barrels – running counter to the national trend – and now stands at about 74 percent of capacity. U.S. oil production held at 10.7 barrels per day (bpd). U.S. crude exports rose to 3.5 million bpd last week, nearing the record of 3.7 million bpd set back in February. Meanwhile, Total is predicting that oil will reach peak demand by 2030. And, while hurricane season is not over, the tropics have been fairly quiet this past week.
Meanwhile, natural gas sits poised to easily exceed the 4 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) level by the start of winter after a reported injection of 76 billion cubic feet (Bcf) last week. Stored natural gas volumes now stand at 3.756 Tcf, with only five weeks remaining in the traditional injection season. If we average just 50 Bcf per week during this period, 4 Tcf is easily achievable and over 4 Tcf is now likely since October is a shoulder demand month. Total stored volumes exceed the five-year average by 12 percent.
Tom McNulty, Houston-based Principal and Energy Practice leader with Valuescope, Inc.: WTI traded well down this morning and has been softer all week. This is in line with a market focused on weak demand. These expectations are pessimistic and “first-world” focused. I think demand will increase, especially in the developing world.
Rigzone: What were some market surprises?
McNulty: U.S. rig counts have remained steady, with no declines. We have spoken with producers doing completions on their DUC (drilled but uncompleted) wells, but they are not doing any new drilling.
Seng: Saudi Arabia has increased its exports as other countries make up for their lack of compliance with previous output cuts.
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