The Colonial Pipeline Returns To Service, But Future Cyberattacks Should Remain A Concern For Oil & Gas

May 17, 2021 12:00 PM
Gasoline shortages are slowly starting to ease as the Colonial Pipeline is getting back to full speed
We’ll all be paying more for oil and gas as the investment in fossil fuels is drying up
There’s still concern about the Covid-19 outbreak in Asia
The Energy Report

The Energy Report

The Phil Flynn Energy Report 

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Gasoline shortages are slowly starting to ease and we’re seeing panic subside as the Colonial Pipeline is getting back to full speed. While many stations are still dry, the surge of people with full gas tanks is reducing demand. Cargoes of gasoline from Europe and an increase in available supply due to a waiving of the Jones Act have allowed for the possibility of more gas hitting eastern ports. Valero Energy Corporation, Refiners Marathon Petroleum (MPC.N), and Citgo all received waivers and that, when paired with the pipeline resuming operations, should allow for a dip in gasoline prices at the pump.

Argus Media is reporting the following:

Colonial Pipeline is letting shippers change where they send their refined products shipments on the system connecting U.S. Gulf coast refineries with the Atlantic coast, as the company's nominations system has been restored following a cyberattack. 

When Colonial resumed service last week, it notified shippers it would not allow them to change destinations for barrels sent along the pipeline because the system used to schedule such movements were still offline. This left shippers with no way to redirect barrels to southeastern markets drained by panic buying. 

Over the weekend, Colonial notified shippers that they can now make nomination changes for all lines on the system.

Though the Colonial Pipeline incident has been resolved, the risk of cyberattacks is still a threat; the oil and gas industry will have to pay a lot of money to beef up its defenses from these types of attacks. The incident is also making people wonder why we still have the Jones Act and whether this protectionist law has outlived its usefulness. We also should consider whether or not it’s a factor in our country paying more than it should for oil and gas.

We’ll all be paying more for oil and gas as the investment in fossil fuels is drying up. Not only is the U.S. oil and gas industry under attack from the Biden administration, it’s getting hit with the backlash of Covid-19 and by banks pulling back from oil and gas: we may be facing a shortage risk in just a few years. 

HFI research pointed to a report by Rystad that showed that the Covid-19 pandemic wiped out almost $300 billion of E&P investment and translated to 6.3 million barrels per day (bpd) of production loss by 2025.

This comes at a time when oil and gas are coming back much faster than many people thought and is leaving us short. Inside Climate News reports that:

Global oil demand is expected to grow steadily over the next five years and quickly surge past pre-pandemic levels, a path that could put climate goals out of reach, according to the International Energy Agency.

In a report released Wednesday, the agency said that while the pandemic will have lasting effects on the world’s oil consumption, governments have to act immediately to set the global energy system on a more sustainable path.

Oil demand needs to fall by about 3 million [bpd] below 2019 levels by the middle of the decade to meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement, the report said. But on the current trajectory, consumption is instead set to increase by 3.5 million [bpd].

Reuters reported today that "China’s crude oil throughput rose 7.5% in April from the same month a year ago, but remained off the peak seen in the last quarter of 2020 as several state-run oil refineries carried out maintenance amid thin margins and high fuel products stocks.” 

The report continued, stating, "The country processed 57.9 million [tons] of crude oil in April, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed on Monday, equivalent to 14.09 million barrels per day (bpd). That compares with 13.1 million bpd in April 2020 but was well below the record level of 14.2 million bpd registered last November. For the first four months of 2021, throughput was 232.1 million [tons], or 14.12 million bpd, up 14% from a year earlier.”

On the downside, there’s still concern about the Covid-19 outbreak in Asia. Stay tuned! 

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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.