Heating oil soars on dangerously low supplies

The Great Energy Divide

There is a growing gap in this country between the haves and have nots. This is what I call the great energy divide. If you heat with natural gas you are the fortunate and if you heat with heating oil, well boy, you are in trouble. Once again heating oil soars as US supply is dangerously low and strong demand elsewhere around the globe is keeping our supply tight. The good news is that as refiners ramp up production to meet heating oil demand, the beneficiary will be gasoline as supply should surge because demand is still weak. This of course opens up a host of spread opportunities whether you are talking about the "Widow Maker," heating oil vs. gasoline spread or even the Brent versus WTI spread and the gasoline vs. crack could fall while the heat vs. crack could rise. The best part is that volatility, the mother's milk of the oil speculators, will continue to run high.

This shortage has been building for weeks. We wrote about how the heating oil/gasoline spread had widened. At the same time we have seen the gas crack tank and the Brent vs. WTI spread come back in. At the same time US refiners expected strong demand for WTI crude as one of the reasons that this market may just kiss $100 a barrel. Heat-oil is probably headed to above $3.20, so other than worrying about Italy's bond yields or whether the next Greek Prime Minister is going to be Papademos or Popinfresh, oil traders have to watch the supplies of distillates closely as they are the tightest they have been in about four years.

Of course natural gas users are in heaven. While natural gas storage is down 0.2 percent from last year, record supply natural gas stocks should set a new record because of above average temperatures that are being forecast. The EIA said that the week ending Nov. 4, the country's natural gas stockpiles fell 6 billion cubic feet from last year at this time, coming in at 3,831 bcf and increased by a more than expected 37 bcf increase from last week. Stocks are now a whopping 215 bcf above the five-year average. Traders are going long heat, short natural gas, and nat gas prices for the strip are near historic lows for this time of year.

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