Friday, September 22, 2017

VLCCs- bearish Winter outlook

http://splash247.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/oil_tanker_suezmax_VLCC_Iraq_Basra-e1452500829659.jpg

http://www.tankeroperator.com/ViewNews.aspx?NewsID=9006

VLCC freight rates have fallen to year-to-date lows in recent weeks, as this tanker sector remains awash with tonnage, despite growing demand for cargo shipments.
For the remainder of the year, we are likely to see weakness, relative to previous years, persist through the seasonally stronger winter period, McQuilling Services said in a report.

Rates out of the Arabian Gulf to the East (TD3, TD1) remained pressured by an oversupply of tonnage, as OPEC cuts removed demand and cargoes to the West remained below previous years.

Year-to-date, TD1 freight payable by charterers has fallen 33% from 2016 levels to average $2.1 mill, while TD3 has fallen a more modest 23% to average $2.3 mill. The Caribbean/Singapore route has dropped by just below $1 mill (20%) year-on-year to average $3.8 mill.

Far East refinery crude intake is poised to grow by 360,000 barrels per day year-on-year, supported by stronger utilisation and a 100,000 barrels per day expansion in crude capacity. Chinese refinery intake is on track to average 11.5 mill barrels per day during the last four months of this year, supporting VLCC trading to the East.

We note that intake fell to a nine month low in August, following a typical seasonal trend and pressured by weaker refinery margins and re-start issues after maintenance. Up to now, government oversight within this sector has been limited; however, a recent fatal incident at a petrochemicals plant has caused the shutdown of refineries in the Shandong area.

JBC Energy has estimated that 570,000 barrels per day of primary crude distillation capacity is offline, as a result of inspections while an additional 310,000 barrels per day of primary refining capacity has been implicated in having violated safety codes. Inspections are likely to continue until October.

In addition, we have observed demand pressures stemming from the delayed start of two refineries with a combined 460,000 barrels per day of crude capacity. Over the remainder of the year, we expect these developments, as well as a slowdown in Chinese SPR building to pressure tanker demand, McQuilling said.

In its base case, the consultancy expected SPR levels to rise about 75 mill barrels by December, 2018, which combined with refinery demand, implies imports around 8.4 mill barrels per day for the remainder of 2017 and 8.7 mill barrels per day for 2018.

The largest demand generator for the VLCC sector, Middle East/Far East, is expected to experience marginal growth this year, as the pace of demand growth in the East far exceeds supply growth in the Middle East.

Middle Eastern crude supply will continue to be pressured by OPEC productions cuts, falling 535,000 barrels per day this year and opening the door for more Atlantic Basin flows to the East, as pricing arbitrages open up.

West African crude supply is projected to rise by 130,000 barrels per day year-on-year; however, export growth from these two regions (ME and WAF) is expected to trail Asian and Indian demand growth.

McQuilling forecast a deficit of about 350,000 barrels per day over the final four months of the year , supporting its view that Atlantic Basin barrels will balance this deficit with a strong preference for US, European and Brazilian crudes.

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) put domestic crude production at an average of 9.6 mill barrels per day through the remainder of the year, while 2018 production is expected at an average of 9.9 mill barrels per day.

EIA also expects net imports (imports-exports) to average 6.3 mill barrels per day over the final four months of the year. Using this information, McQuilling has developed a short-term US crude export forecast, which calls for export volumes to average around one million barrels per day over the final four months of the year.

In February, we observed a surge in US crude exports, which correlated with higher US Gulf/Caribbean liftings, as VLCCs were seen to be co-loading US and Caribbean crude for discharge in the East. We noted that some US Gulf port delays from Hurricane Harvey may impede the flow of export cargoes in the near-term; however, recent reports show conditions were improving within the region and were likely to support a peak in US crude export during October’s lifting period, McQuilling said.

Interest to source US crude is primarily arbitrage driven and is likely to remain high, as the WTI/Brent spread has widened well above the $5 per barrel mark this month, which may support higher US crude export volumes as operations in the Gulf resume to normal levels.

The consultancy forecast around 50 US VLCC cargoes out of the Gulf this year; however, this will not fill the imbalance, therefore volumes will likely be sourced from Brazil, which is projected to add about 200,000 barrels per day of crude output this year, although short-term supply crunches may stem from increased refinery intake.

Additional support for tanker demand has stemmed from a recent rise in both Northern and Southern European barrels to the East amid higher crude supply in the Black Sea and Mediterranean.

Looking forward, McQuilling expected VLCC rate bifurcation (splitting between AG and Atlantic Basin) during the winter months, as fundamentals in the Atlantic Basin were likely to prove beneficial for rates on West loadings.

While we expect this market to fare a bit better than the Arabian Gulf, we must keep in mind that the rate upturn for this Winter season is likely to remain below previous years, as the market remains over-supplied with tonnage, despite the recent increase in scrapping activity, as another 16 vessels are left to join the fleet this year, McQuilling said.

We forecast TD3 to average WS69 in December, which on a lumpsum basis would equate to about $2.8 mill in freight, a 33% drop year-on-year. On the TD15 West Africa trade, December freight is expected to fall by a more modest 26% to $4.1 mill basis WS74. For owners looking to the Caribbean, we expect freight rates for discharge in Singapore to remain relatively unchanged year-on-year at around $4.9 mill in December, McQuilling concluded.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Oil rangebound as unease builds ahead of OPEC meeting

http://s1.reutersmedia.net/resources/r/?m=02&d=20160623&t=2&i=1142571241&r=LYNXNPEC5M1L1&w=1280
The Philadelphia Energy Solutions oil refinery owned by The Carlyle Group is seen at sunset in Philadelphia March 26, 2014. Picture taken March 26, 2014. REUTERS/David M. Parrott/File Photo

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-global-oil/oil-up-2-percent-despite-u-s-crude-build-set-for-best-third-quarter-since-2004-idUSKCN1BT019

Oil prices were largely steady on Thursday as traders waited to see whether oil-producing countries set to meet in Vienna would extend production limits that have helped reduce the global crude glut. 

Ministers from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and other producers meeting in Vienna on Friday, will discuss a possible extension of a deal to cut 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) of supply to support prices and will consider monitoring exports to assess compliance. 

While many analysts expect them to extend the deal that currently lasts until March, many also said prices at current levels could encourage some countries to boost production. 

Even if the deal is extended, “compliance looks to be a bit of an issue” if prices rise much from current levels, said John Kilduff, partner at Again Capital LLC in New York. 

He noted that oil prices have surged more than 15 percent over the last three months as global supply has tightened. 

“The bull run in the oil market is running out of steam as unease builds ahead of tomorrow’s OPEC/non-OPEC meeting,” said Stephen Brennock, analyst at London brokerage PVM Oil Associates. 

By 12:23 p.m. ET (1623 GMT), global benchmark Brent crude LCOc1 had dipped 5 cents a barrel, or 0.09 pct, to $56.24 a barrel. U.S. crude CLc1 was down 14 cents, or 0.28 percent, at $50.55 a barrel.
“We’re a little rangebound and choppy, not too much of a direction,” said Tariq Zahir, a trader with Tyche Capital Advisors in New York. 

After a strong rise in prices over the last three months, he said, there were signs that output was rising especially among U.S. shale producers. 

OPEC’s output cuts have boosted prices enough to encourage higher production elsewhere. U.S. shale production, especially, has been growing to record highs. 

Hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico have also pushed up crude inventories in some parts of the United States as refineries have been shut by flooding. 

U.S. crude production has reached 9.51 million bpd, up from 8.78 million bpd after Hurricane Harvey hit the U.S. Gulf. 

Rising U.S. production is “a reminder to the market that OPEC has a significant problem on its hands from the continued rise in shale output,” Kilduff said. 

Front-month Brent futures have risen sharply in recent months, much more than forward prices and the contango, a symptom of an oversupplied market, has gradually disappeared from most crude markets to be replaced by backwardation, a sign of tightness.

Brent futures have traded in a sustained backwardation, where the back months are cheaper than the front month contract, for the first time since oil prices started slumping in July 2014. 

Brent’s backwardation, initially confined to the contracts nearest expiry, now extends throughout the whole of next year. 

Additional reporting by Christopher Johnson in London, Henning Gloystein in Singapore; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Alexander Smith

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Mexican Market for U.S. Petroleum Grows

https://www.texasmonthly.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Gasoline-Mexico-800x500.jpg 
 Oil company investments in Mexico have been growing, and firms such as Exxon, Chevron, and BP are planning to open direct-sale service stations in Mexico.

https://www.texasmonthly.com/energy/the-growing-mexican-market-for-u-s-petroleum/

For U.S. oil companies, there is a growing belief that there is gold to be made in Mexico, partly because of energy reforms in Mexico and an ending of the U.S. ban on petroleum exports in December 2015.

Joe Gorder, the CEO of San Antonio-based Valero Energy Corporation, last week told a free trade group that his company is “aggressively pursuing” new business opportunities in Mexico. The energy reforms will not only allow foreign companies a greater opportunity to export oil to Mexico, but also will allow them to directly serve Mexican consumers.

“Valero does a lot of business in Mexico, but with the reforms that have been implemented, we can now not only sell the barrels to Mexico but we can control the barrels and own the barrels in Mexico and move them further inland,” Gorder said, according to the San Antonio Business Journal.

President Trump in June announced that the Department of Energy had given the green light to the construction of NuStar Energy LP’s New Burgos Pipeline to haul 108,000 barrels a day of gasoline and diesel fuel from Edinburg to Pemex’s Burgos processing play in Reynosa, replacing tanker trucks that currently do the job. While the pipeline is only 46 miles long, it is expected to improve the flow of petroleum products to Mexico.

In an aside, Trump joked about the pipeline crossing his proposed wall with Mexico. “My administration has just approved the construction of a new petroleum pipeline to Mexico, which will further boost American energy exports, and that will go right under the wall, right?” Trump said, making digging motions. “Have it go down a little deeper in that one section.”

U.S. crude oil and petroleum exports to Mexico hit a low of 6.3 million barrels a month in April 2009. The lowest monthly export number to date in 2017 has been 26.5 million barrels. In 2016 the U.S. export value was more than twice the value of energy imports from Mexico, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Oil company investments in Mexico have been growing, and firms such as Exxon, Chevron, and BP are planning to open direct-sale service stations in Mexico. Also, major offshore discoveries have been made in the past year. But much of the change has come from President Enrique Peña Nieto’s energy reforms, and he is due to leave office next year. The leading candidate to replace him at the moment is Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who is promising to hold a referendum on the energy reforms. López Obrador complains that the energy reforms have not reduced fuel or electricity prices as promised.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Trelleborg Fluid Handling Solutions: For floating LNG Terminals

Cryogenic floating hoses open up frontiers in LNG transfer

https://www.green4sea.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Cryogenic-620x330.jpg

http://fluidhandlingmag.com/display_news/12894/cryogenic_floating_hoses_open_up_frontiers_in_lng_transfer/

Vincent Lagarrigue, Director, Trelleborg Oil and Marine explains how a rapidly diversifying LNG market requires transfer solutions to evolve to keep pace

While global demand for LNG (liquefied natural gas) shows little sign of slowing, demand patterns are changing, requiring increasing flexibility from those who transport and transfer this fuel. According to a recent study, global demand for LNG is projected to increase by a factor of 50% by 2020, compared to 2014. While traditional import hubs such as India and China are leading this charge, several new LNG importers including Poland, Jordan, Malta, and Pakistan have emerged in the last two years. In addition, remote, developing regions in Indonesia and the Philippines are looking to LNG to fill the energy gap where access to the main grid is limited or unreliable, or where power generation capabilities are restricted.

In delivering LNG to these more remote areas, the fuel needs to be split into smaller load parcels to reach regions that are not connected to an existing pipeline grid. This is driving diversification in the global LNG-carrying fleet, with a growing segment of smaller vessels emerging and a greater need for options in ship-to-shore transfer. Today, the live LNG fleet of around 500 vessels includes 26 FSRUs and 33 small-scale LNG ships of 30,000m³ or less – and the number in this smaller fleet is increasing.

Offshore elements remain vital. FLNG (Floating LNG) projects are picking up, and FSRU (Floating Storage and Regasification Units) continue to be essential links in the LNG supply chain. As the LNG network expands, ship-to-ship loading and offloading continues to push into remote locations, deeper waters and harsher conditions.

These trends are accompanied by the rise of LNG’s use as a marine fuel. Over 100 vessels are now running on LNG – and demand will only grow in line with regulations such as the 2020 global sulphur cap and the expansions of emissions control areas (ECA). This again requires more flexible transport of LNG in smaller packages, and an expansion of ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore transfer options to ensure safe LNG bunkering that will not impact already congested ports.

The combination of these factors means we need to rethink LNG transfer. Traditional thinking has been that LNG vessels would moor at the dockside and use a jetty platform for ship-to-shore transfers, or use bridging arms for ship-to-ship transfers. While effective in certain situations, the trends outlined above mean that LNG transfer must take place in environments where this type of infrastructure would be prohibitively expensive, either due to harsh conditions, or because waters are too deep or shallow to allow a jetty to be constructed. In addition, many existing terminals set up for larger carriers, may not be equipped to handle transfer to and from smaller vessels.

This is where the latest LNG hose technology holds the key to unlocking a wider range of transfer possibilities. Because LNG needs to be transported at a temperature of -163 degrees Celsius, LNG transfer solutions require specialised cryogenic hosing to safely transfer LNG to regasification plants, and as such, considerable research has gone into the development of cryogenic hoses. Cryogenic floating hoses in particular enable a range of new transfer options.

Composite LNG hoses typically consist of multiple, unbonded, polymeric film and woven fabric layers encapsulated between two stainless steel wire helices – one internal and one external. Essentially, the film layers provide a fluid-tight barrier to the conveyed product, with the mechanical strength of the hose coming from woven fabric layers. The number and arrangement of multiple polymeric film and woven fabric layers is specific to the hose size and application. The polymeric film and fabric materials are selected to be compatible with the conveyed product and the operating temperatures likely to be encountered.

Additionally, insulated hoses - such as Trelleborg’s Cryoline range - can reduce boil-off by as much as 60%, equating to a saving of 10 billion btu’s of energy over the course of 500 transfers. The outer protective hose draws on flexible rubber-bonded hose technology, which is well-known for its high resistance to fatigue and its ability to withstand harsh environmental conditions.

The flexibility and high flow rates achievable by cryogenic hose technology increase the economic feasibility of power generation, terminal, and marine bunkering projects which are located away from existing infrastructure – particularly in areas where jetty-based transfer would be unfeasible because of harsh conditions or environmental concerns. A major advantage of hose-in-hose technology is that it can negate the need for large scale fixed onshore infrastructures; a concrete platform onshore combined with Cryoline hose transfer solutions offers an alternative in locations where fixed onshore infrastructure costs would be prohibitive.

The options further expand when combined with a floating platform. This increases the operability of the terminal, as the hose and platform can be retracted when not needed, or when harsh weather conditions would present hazards. They can function either as standalone units, or enhance a larger terminal’s ability to handle deliveries from smaller vessels.

Similarly, in offshore environments, cryogenic hose technology allows transfer to occur in deeper seas and in more challenging conditions. Cryogenic floating hoses can be used in a tandem configuration, significantly increasing the distance between the vessels involved – by approximately 100 – 150 metres for FLNG to carrier transfers, and 300-500 metres for carrier to FSRU offloading transfers. These extended distances play an important role in mitigating the risk of collision – as does the fact that the high flow rates afforded by the hose technology significantly reduce the length of the transfer operation, further lowering risk.

As LNG evolves and its uses diversify it must shift from a niche power source to a ubiquitous part of the global energy mix. If LNG is to reach its full potential, it is vital that transfer technology keeps pace; cryogenic hose technology is demonstrating that transfer innovations can match the ubiquity and flexibility of the fuel itself.

A video about Trelleborg’s range of cryogenic hoses is available here

Monday, September 18, 2017

Evidence of spills at toxic site during floods


https://www.yahoo.com/finance/news/ap-exclusive-evidence-spills-during-floods-toxic-175440559--finance.html

The U.S. government received reports of three spills at one of Houston's dirtiest Superfund toxic waste sites in the days after the drenching rains from Hurricane Harvey finally stopped. Aerial photos reviewed by The Associated Press show dark-colored water surrounding the site as the floods receded, flowing through Vince Bayou and into a ship channel.

The reported spills, which have been not publicly detailed, occurred at U.S. Oil Recovery, a former petroleum industry waste processing plant contaminated with a dangerous brew of cancer-causing chemicals. On Aug. 29, the day Harvey's rains stopped, a county pollution control team sent photos to the Environmental Protection Agency of three large concrete tanks flooded with water. That led PRP Group, the company overseeing the ongoing cleanup, to call a federal emergency hotline to report a spill affecting nearby Vince Bayou.

Over the next several days, the company reported two more spills of potentially contaminated storm water from U.S. Oil Recovery, according to reports and call logs obtained by the AP from the U.S. Coast Guard, which operates the National Response Center hotline. The EPA requires that spills of oil or hazardous substances in quantities that may be harmful to public health or the environment be immediately reported to the 24-hour hotline when public waterways are threatened.

The EPA has not publicly acknowledged the three spills that PRP Group reported to the Coast Guard. The agency said an on-scene coordinator was at the site last Wednesday and found no evidence that material had washed off the site. The EPA says it is still assessing the scene.

The AP reported in the days after Harvey that at least seven Superfund sites in and around Houston were underwater during the record-shattering storm. Journalists surveyed the sites by boat, vehicle and on foot. U.S. Oil Recovery was not one of the sites visited by AP. EPA said at the time that its personnel had been unable to reach the sites, though they surveyed the locations using aerial photos.
Following AP's report, EPA has been highlighting the federal agency's response to the flooding at Superfund sites. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt reiterated that safeguarding the intensely-polluted sites is among his top priorities during a visit Friday to the San Jacinto River Waste Pits, one of the sites AP reported about two weeks ago.

Pruitt then boarded a Coast Guard aircraft for an aerial tour of other nearby Superfund sites flooded by Harvey, including U.S. Oil Recovery.

Photos taken Aug. 31 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows dark-colored water surrounding the site two days after the first spill was reported to the government hotline. While the photos do not prove contaminated materials leaked from U.S. Oil Recovery, they do show that as the murky floodwaters receded, they flowed through Vince Bayou and emptied into a ship channel that leads to the San Jacinto River. The hotline caller identified Vince Bayou as the waterway affected by a spill of unknown material in unknown amounts.

Thomas Voltaggio, a retired EPA official who oversaw Superfund cleanups and emergency responses for more than two decades, reviewed the aerial photos, hotline reports and other documents obtained by AP.

"It is intuitively obvious that the rains and floods of the magnitude that occurred during Hurricane Harvey would have resulted in some level of contamination having been released to the environment," said Voltaggio, who is now a private consultant. "Any contamination in those tanks would likely have entered Vince Bayou and potentially the Houston Ship Channel."

He said the amount of contaminants spread from the site during the storm will likely never be known, making the environmental impact difficult to measure. The Houston Ship Channel was already a polluted waterway, with Texas state health officials warning that women of childbearing age and children should not eat fish or crabs caught there because of contamination from dioxins and PCBs.

PRP Group, the corporation formed to oversee the cleanup at U.S. Oil Recovery, said it reported the spills as legally required but said subsequent testing of storm water remaining in the affected tanks showed it met federal drinking water standards. The company declined to provide AP copies of those lab reports or a list of specific chemicals for which it tested, saying the EPA was expected to release that information soon.

U.S. Oil Recovery was shut down in 2010 after regulators determined operations there posed an environmental threat to Vince Bayou, which flows through the property in Pasadena. Pollution at the former hazardous waste treatment plant is so bad that Texas prosecutors charged the company's owner, Klaus Genssler, with five criminal felonies. The German native fled the United States and is considered a fugitive. Genssler did not respond to efforts to contact him last week through his social media accounts or an email account linked to his website address.

More than 100 companies that sent hazardous materials and oily waste to U.S. Oil Recovery for processing are now paying for the multimillion-dollar cleanup there through a court-monitored settlement, including Baker Hughes Oilfield Operations Inc., U.S. Steel Corp. and Dow Chemical Co.
Past sampling of materials at the site revealed high concentrations of hazardous chemicals linked to cancer, such as benzene, ethylbenzene and trichloroethylene. The site also potentially contains toxic heavy metals, including mercury and arsenic.

A 2012 EPA study of the more than 500 Superfund sites across the United States located in flood zones specifically noted the risk that floodwaters might carry away and spread toxic materials over a wider area.

Over the past six years, remediation efforts at U.S. Oil Recovery have focused on the northern half of the site, including demolishing contaminated structures, removing an estimated 500 tons of sludge and hauling away more than 1,000 abandoned containers of waste.

PRP Group said the southern portion of the site, including the three waste tanks that flooded during Harvey, has not yet been fully cleaned. Over the years workers have removed more than 1.5 million gallons of liquid waste — enough to fill nearly three Olympic-sized swimming pools.

AP began asking the EPA whether contaminated material might have again leaked from U.S. Oil Recovery last week, after reviewing the aerial photos taken Aug. 31. The EPA said it visited the site on Sept. 4, nearly a week after site operators reported an initial spill, and again the following week. The EPA said that its staff saw no evidence that toxins had washed away from the scene during either visit.

"Yesterday, an EPA On-scene coordinator conducted an inspection of Vince Bayou to follow up on a rumor that material was offsite and did not find any evidence of a black oily discharge or material from the U.S. Oil Recovery site," an EPA media release said on Thursday.

PRP Group said the spills occurred at the toxic waste site on Aug. 29, Sept. 6 and Sept. 7. One of the EPA's media releases on Sept. 9, more than 11 days after the first call was made to the hotline, made reference to overflowing water at the scene, but did not describe it as a spill.

The company said it reported the first spill after Harvey's floodwaters swamped the three tanks, filling them. The resulting pressure that built up in the tanks dislodged plugs blocking a series of interconnecting pipes, causing the second and third spills reported to the hotline the following week.

The company does not know how much material leaked from the tanks, soaking into the soil or flowing into nearby Vince Bayou. As part of its post-storm cleanup workers have vacuumed 63 truckloads holding about 315,000 gallons from the tanks.

The Superfund site is located just a few hundred yards from the Pollution Control Services offices for Harris County, which includes Houston. Its director, Bob Allen, says his team took pictures of the flooding on Aug. 29, when the area that includes the three big tanks was still underwater. Allen said his staff did not note any black water or oily sheen on the surface at the time.

"We knew that the water probably got into the plant, probably washed out some of the stuff that was in the clarifier," Allen said, referring to one of the old concrete tanks once used to store toxic waste. Allen's team did not collect samples Aug. 29. He said the EPA later sampled the area to determine whether there was contamination.
"Once they get done with the assessment of that site and the other Superfund Harris County sites, then they'll probably let us know, let the public know, what's been going on," Allen said.

Biesecker reported from Washington. Associated Press reporters Reese Dunklin in Dallas and Jeff Horwitz in Washington contributed to this reporting.

Follow Biesecker at http://Twitter.com/mbieseck

Submit a confidential tip to The Associated Press at https://www.ap.org.tips


Oil Lingers Below $50 With Refiners Slowing, Producers Hedging


https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-09-17/iea-sees-risk-of-volatile-oil-prices-on-weak-upstream-investment

Oil hit a wall again, failing to sustain a rally above $50 a barrel for a third straight session. 

That’s partly because demand typically drops this time of year as many crude-processing plants shut down in the fall for maintenance. But it’s also because producers are coming to the futures market whenever West Texas Intermediate prices approach $50 to lock in profits. While that protects them against a slump, it also makes it more difficult for futures to rise further. Meanwhile, for the third time this month, a hurricane is heading toward the Caribbean.

“We are moving into the autumn period and that typically is a weaker period seasonally for oil demand,” Harry Tchilinguirian, head of commodity markets strategy at BNP Paribas SA in London, said by telephone. At the same time, “$50 is pretty much the magic number which oil producers come in and hedge. The price of WTI is up against a wall, a producer hedge wall, and it’s going to be difficult to overcome that.”
While oil’s peaks above $50 have so far failed to stick, futures have gained some strength after the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and the International Energy Agency boosted their forecasts for global demand last week. In the U.S., shale producers are set to churn a record 6.08 million barrels a day in October, according to the Energy Information Administration.

WTI for October delivery rose 2 cents to settle at $49.91 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Total volume traded was about 18 percent below the 100-day average.

Brent for November settlement fell 14 cents to end the session at $55.48 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The global benchmark crude traded at a premium of $5.13 to November WTI.

U.S. refineries, including Phillips 66’s plant in Ponca City, Oklahoma, and Total SA’s Port Arthur, Texas, facility will start seasonal maintenance this month. Other plants that were knocked offline by Hurricane Harvey, including the nation’s largest, are still working to reach normal operating levels.

“We’re going to see some recovery in Texas but we’re also going to see some reductions in refining activity in the rest of the country,” Bill O’Grady, chief market strategist at Confluence Investment Management in St. Louis, said by telephone. “Demand for crude will probably stay pretty weak.”

Hurricane Maria

Hurricane Maria intensified into a major hurricane on Monday and is expected to continue strengthening as it closes in on the Leeward Islands, the National Hurricane Center said in an advisory. Maximum sustained winds approached 125 miles (201 kilometers) an hour, and Maria is not forecast to weaken as she rakes islands already devastated by Irma.

Puma Energy plans to shut its petroleum terminal in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands ahead of Hurricane Maria, according to the company. Ports in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are scheduled to shut Tuesday in preparation for the hurricane, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.
Oil-market news:
  • Cushing, Oklahoma crude stockpiles increased by 900,000 barrels in the week ended Sept. 15, according to a forecast compiled by Bloomberg.
  • Permian shale basin drillers, once the darlings of the U.S. oil industry, now look like fat targets for acquisitions and activist investors, analysts at Stifel Nicolaus & Co. said.
  • Saudi Arabian crude shipments dropped in July to their lowest level in almost three years as the world’s biggest oil exporter intensified efforts to curb supply to counter a global glut.
— With assistance by Ben Sharples, and Grant Smith