Thursday, May 21, 2015

Crude Oil Market Outlook


North Sea crude oil shows mixed signals

May 19, 2015 - The North Sea crude oil market showed mixed signals May 15, with Dated Brent versus second-month cash up $0.21/barrel at minus $0.94/b, even as Forties came off a touch.

A late May cargo traded at Dated Brent minus $1.00/b, Gunvor to Unipec.

However traders were not convinced this signaled Forties as a whole would continue to trade weaker, with June still seen as tighter due to two or three VLCC fixtures this week.

"Maybe, it is just that Forties cargo is too prompt," said one trader.

Dated Brent

On futures, one trader said the July/August Brent futures spread at minus $0.50/b was overdone given the supply/demand balance in the North Sea.

"We think the market should be weaker, in a deeper contango. But the market does not seem to agree."

Refinery margins stayed strong and run rates high while the end of spring maintenance approached, with many traders anticipating higher crude demand in June and July compared with April and May.

Upstream, Forties output was surprising to the upside, with the June program swelled by the addition of one cargo, the 600,000 barrel Suncor equity F0620, loading on June 12-14 -- just too early to be chained.

Traders had been saying earlier last week production was better than expected at the Nexen-operated Buzzard field.

Various equity holders were offered advancements on their loading dates to accommodate the high production, and there was talk of forced advancement if none took up this option, but the addition of a cargo may have removed the need for this.

However, one source said there was still "pressure on Hound Point's ullage levels. So, if production stays as strong between mid-May and mid-June as recently, it could continue to bring about advancements."

There was talk of an Ekofisk injection cargo in the June program, in addition to BP's C11788 added last weekend, but no new parcel number emerged.

Ekofisk "production is apparently very good", said one trader, adding he had thought planned J-block maintenance would slow things down more in June.

Meanwhile there were two cargoes heard entered into the month-ahead nomination process May 15: ENI equity Ekofisk cargo C11759 on June 15-17 was heard kept from chains by Shell, and ConocoPhillips equity Ekofisk cargo C11765 on June 17-19 was heard chained from Vitol to Shell.

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