Oil sold off with risk assets on Monday, but it failed to follow equities higher yesterday. Instead, downward pressure on the market continued, which saw NYMEX WTI settle below US$100/bbl. Growth concerns continue to weigh on commodities, and a stronger USD only adds further downward pressure to the complex. This weakness has continued in early trading this morning after the API reported that US crude oil inventories increased by 1.62MMbbls – the market was expecting a small draw. In addition, API numbers also showed an increase in refined product inventories. Gasoline and distillate fuel oil inventories increased by 823Mbbls and 662Mbbls respectively. If today’s EIA report shows similar numbers, it would be the first weekly increase for US gasoline inventories since late March and the first for distillates since early April. However, the middle distillate market is still very tight and so we would expect US heating oil cracks to remain well supported. In fact, middle distillate cracks around the world should remain well supported, given the tightness in the market and concerns over Russian gasoil exports.
The EIA released its latest Short Term Energy Outlook yesterday. The report cut expectations for US oil production growth for 2022 from around 833Mbbls/d to 731Mbbls/d, which implies US oil output averaging 11.91MMbbls/d this year. However, for 2023, supply is expected to grow by 940Mbbls/d (largely unchanged from last month), which would see US output hitting a record 12.85MMbbls/d. Obviously, the biggest concern for the global oil market is around supply in the short to medium term, given the uncertainty over Russian supply. And the downward revisions to 2022 output estimates will do little to ease these concerns.
European natural gas prices showed some strength yesterday. TTF rallied by more than 5%, settling close to EUR99/MWh. This strength came after Ukraine’s gas grid operator (GTSOU) declared force majeure on the transit of Russian gas through Sokhranivka, which accounts for about a third of Russian gas transited via Ukraine. GTSOU has said that it is not possible to continue operations through Sokhranivka due to Russia’s military aggression in the region. GTSOU said that gas can be rerouted through Sudzha (another entry point), Gazprom has reportedly said that this is not technically possible.
Dutch gas network operator, Gasunie has said that it has contracted a second FSRU (floating storage and regasification unit) for the next 5 years, which would allow it to regas LNG imports at Eemshaven in the north of Groningen. The FSRU is expected to arrive in the third quarter of this year, and along with another FSRU already contracted, would provide a total of 8bcm of regasification capacity at Eemshaven. This regasification capacity would exceed the roughly 6bcm of natural gas that the Netherlands imports from Russia every year. The big question though is if there is enough LNG supply to fully use this capacity, particularly with Germany also securing 4 FSRUs, with an annual capacity of as much as 29bcm. Some of this capacity in Germany is also expected to come into operation ahead of the next winter.