I Feel the Earth Move under My Feet
I feel the earth move under my feet and the storm is tumbling down, tumbling round. Yet the oil keeps trembling while the stocks rebound! Oh baby, what else could we have to watch? Earthquakes, hurricanes and war not to mention some wild oil inventories. The rebels fly the flag over the Gaddafi compound but don't find the mad dog and an earthquake in Virginia shakes up the entire East Coast just as it braces for Hurricane Irene. Now throw in a credit downgrade of Japan and weak consumer confidence in Germany, the Eurozone's last stronghold, and we have a load of worries tumbling down around us. The world has gone through some wild events in the last 24 hours and if you think things are shaky now, well you better try to hang on to something solid.
The oil market really reflected the manic mood shifts in Tuesday's trade. Oil prices were under pressure early on in hopes that Libyan rebels could finally take control of the country. Already we have reports of oil company workers on the ground in Libya looking to bring back refineries and oil production. Bloomberg News reported that, "Rebels in the west of Libya say they’ve captured the oil terminal that supplies fuel to Muammar Gaddafi’s forces and have almost encircled the outskirts of the capital, Tripoli. The announcement of the seizure of the facility outside the town of Zawiya. Rebels also said that the Zawiya oil refinery may be restarted “in the coming weeks,” according to Ahmed Jehani, chairman of the rebels’ stabilization team. This was a good sign that raised optimism that Libyan oil production may come back must faster than many people feared.
Yet it was the renewed hopes for demand that overshadowed the rebels progress. First it was China's better than expected manufacturing data. Later on it was a rising stock market that could not be stopped even in the face of an earth shattering event. And they got one, an earth shattering event anyway. An 5.9 magnitude earthquake in Mineral, Virginia was felt pretty much up and down the East Coast. Reuters News reported that the quake caused the North Anna nuclear power plant to shut down automatically and the Colonial Pipeline Company to shut lines north of Greensboro, North Carolina as a precaution. Refineries, other pipelines and other energy infrastructure reported no significant impacts. Yet the stock market was not rattled and oil kept on trucking.
Demand may take a hit when Hurricane Irene hits land. The track of Irene looks scary and the storm will impact much of the East Coast and might give North Carolina a significant blow. Most infrastructures for oil should be safe so this becomes more of a demand destruction event as opposed to a supply threat event.
The API also shook things up with a monster build in gasoline supply and a huge drop in oil suppy. The API reported that crude stocks fell by a larger than expected 3.342 million barrels as imports fell by about 735,00 barrel per day and Midwest supplies fell due to pipeline issues. Yet gasoline supply rose as high refining margins and low demand caused a supply surge of 6.365 million barrels! Gasoline demand fell 596,000 barrels per day to 8.856 million barrels.
Today the Energy Information Agency gives their version of energy supply/demand and traders of oil are looking to the meeting in Jackson Hole as a possible bullish event as they hope that Helicopter Ben will promise QE3d. Still, as I predicted against the grain that oil prices would rally this week, and we are well on our way!
Phil Flynn is senior energy analyst for PFGBest Research and a Fox Business Network contributor. He can be reached at (800) 935-6487 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.