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Product Shortage Comes Into Focus in Hot Market

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While the oil market fixates on tightness in crude supply, speculative bets are rising that the world may struggle to meet refined product demand as the pandemic fades. Refinery margins are solid, but runs are not high enough to rebuild inventories. Plant closures are being felt, especially in the Atlantic Basin. Global crude throughput in January was 2.8 million barrels per day below January 2019, while demand last month was back at the same level as three years ago, before the pandemic started. The world is just one major refinery disruption away from spiking product prices, traders note. Runs are falling short in Europe and the US. Speculative bets on higher prices for European gasoil are up 60% since mid-December to 154,000 contracts — a return to positions held last October, which eroded amid Omicron and winter's late arrival. The eventual coming of cold weather and the fading of Omicron rekindled interest from banks and funds. Additionally, rising gas-to-fuel switching has encouraged more diesel and fuel oil use as refiners reduced runs. Bets from banks and funds on the Nymex low-sulfur diesel contract are also rising, while US gasoline speculation is up 30% from mid-December.

Topics:
Oil Products, Oil Demand, Oil Inventories, Oil Supply, Oil Prices, NGL/LPG
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