Loopty loo crude

February 16, 2018 08:05 AM
Daily Energy Market Analysis

Here we go loopty loo, here we go loopty li. Here we go loopty loo, all on a Saturday night. Crude oil prices are getting loopy as a historic turnaround for the major U.S. oil import terminal LOOP, otherwise known as the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, is getting looped around for now exporting oil. This comes as oil prices looped back around as global oil demand numbers led by record oil imports in India and another reported drop in Cushing, Okla., supplies continue to support prices as global stock prices rebound. Are you loopy yet? If you’re not, you will be. 

U.S. oil exports will continue to play a major factor in an increasingly oil-hungry world. According to Platts, the LOOP will for the first time use its offshore terminal to fill a ship for export as opposed to using it to empty oil tankers from abroad to meet U.S. import needs. A Saudi tanker that is buying U.S. oil to be shipped to China is a historic development in the changing landscape for oil.

Platts reported that the LOOP, which began operations in 1981, is the first and only deepwater oil port in the United States, and is presently the only U.S. oil facility capable of offloading vessels or supertankers. The “supertankers" are the largest tankers, including very large crude carriers known as VLCC or ULCCs, with capacities over 250,000 pounds of Dead Weight Tonnage (DWT). These ships can transport 2,000,000 barrels (320,000 m3) of oil (318,000 metric tons of oil). 

Shell will then lay claim to the continental United States' first true VLCC export of crude -- an export without the need for reverse lightering -- when the vessel Shaden sails from the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port later this week laden with a medium sour crude, according to market sources.  

The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port reported late Monday thta it "has moored a VLCC supertanker and initiated its detailed test and checkout procedure." The tanker known as the “Shaden” will receive crude from LOOP's newly bidirectional pipeline connecting LOOP's onshore infrastructure with an offshore deepwater mooring station. 

Market sources said Shell chartered the Shaden, a Saudi Arabian-flagged VLCC owned by Bahri (the top VLCC owner globally) that entered service at the end of 2017 and will take the crude into its refining system. Market sources were split on what grade Shell is taking, with two saying offshore Gulf of Mexico, Shell-produced Mars and another two saying the crude blend LOOP Sour. Both Shell and LOOP declined to comment. Yet, the thought that the U.S. would be filling supertankers of oil for export to China would have been thought to be impossible or even crazy just a few years ago by many people.

Maybe we need to send a supertanker of oil to India where demand for oil imports hit a record high in January. The Economic Times reported that India imported a record 4.93 million barrels of oil in January to feed its expanded refining capacity and meet rising demand, ship-tracking data obtained from sources and data compiled by Thomson Reuters Oil Research & Forecasts showed. The world's third-biggest oil importer shipped in 13.6% more oil in January than a year earlier and about 12.5% more than the previous month, the data showed.  

The country is set to surpass China as the fastest-growing oil products market in Asia, with fuel demand growing by 6.1% in 2018, according to a report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. FGE expects India's January crude runs to reach 5.27 million bpd, about 280,000 bpd higher than a year earlier, as the country's new refining capacities are operating at almost full rate.

With stock market stability coming back, it's back to a focus on tightening U.S. oil supply. Despite record U.S. oil production, supply in the key Cushing delivery point continues to tighten. Genscape reported that  Cushing oil supply fell by another 1.78  million barrels in the last four days. According to EIA, Cushing stocks were at 69,420 in April and are now at only 32,677. Now subtract another 1.78 million barrels and you get the picture! The key benchmark delivery point is going to start running dry.


About the Author

Phil Flynn is a senior energy analyst at The PRICE Futures Group and a Fox Business Network contributor. Phil is one of the world's leading market analysts, providing individual investors, professional traders, and institutions with up-to-the-minute investment and risk management insight into global petroleum, gasoline, and energy markets.