In this week's Market Movers Americas, presented by Chris van Moessner:
• Diesel cracks firm amid talks of Russian oil embargo (00:17)
• Dirty tanker intertrade keeps rates capped (01:01)
• Coal, petcoke costs push cement prices up (01:40)
• PHP maintenance to limit eastbound Permian flows (02:19)
In this week's Market Movers: Diesel cracks will remain supported as Europe moves toward a Russian oil embargo, Americas dirty tanker intertrade keeps rates capped, US cement prices rise with higher carbon and power costs, and pipeline maintenance will limit eastbound Permian gas flows.
Starting in oil, Atlantic basin ULSD cracks are likely to remain supported as self-sanctioning increases amid growing calls for a European Union embargo on Russian energy imports. Diesel cracks jumped immediately after Russia's February 24 invasion of Ukraine but eased in early April, even as self-sanctioning by traders helped send Northwest European inventories to record lows. But diesel cracks again rallied at the end of April amid signs the EU is moving toward an official ban on Russian imports. The ICE New York Harbor heating oil crack versus Brent reached an all-time high last week of more than 60 dollars per barrel. Tight availability on the US Gulf and Atlantic coasts has closed import arbitrages, and the enactment of formal EU sanctions is likely to push regional inventories lower still.
In shipping, the Americas dirty tanker market is eyeing the heavy intertrade between ship classes, which has pushed down rates on US Gulf Coast-Transatlantic runs as charterers look to different ship sizes to avoid steep rates. Freight rates have fallen by nearly half on Suezmaxes and by one-third on Aframaxes from two-year highs reached in early April, when a surge in demand for USGC crude from European buyers sent rates soaring. But Suezmax lists tightened last week as charterers snagged the larger ship at an average 15 dollars and 95 cents per metric ton discount to Aframaxes. With Aframax tonnage building and VLCC rates still falling, freight rates could continue to drop in the week ahead.
US cement prices are projected to rise as higher production costs are expected to continue into the third quarter. Prices for coal and petcoke, the primary fuels used for cement-making, hit multiyear highs in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The war is also forcing cement ships to log more ton-miles, contributing to cement's bullishness. Higher electricity costs are also making cement production and export less profitable on a global scale. This has prompted some producers to temporarily shut off their kilns. This brings us to our social media question of the week: With the EU steadily weaning itself off Russian energy imports, how much would a formal oil embargo impact Western energy markets? Tweet us your thoughts.
And in natural gas, planned maintenance work on the 2.1 billion cubic feet per day Permian Highway Pipeline from May 3 to 13 will slash eastbound flows. This is likely to widen the discount of Permian spot gas benchmark Waha Hub to Henry Hub. With ongoing repair work limiting westbound flows out of the Permian, any reduction in eastbound capacity could have an outsized impact on the basin's spot gas prices. Waha Hub has averaged a 56-cent discount to cash Henry Hub so far this year, but several episodes of constrained takeaway capacity in March made the spread widen beyond the 1 dollar per MMBtu mark. Permian Highway flows will be limited to 1.1 Bcf per day for May 3-6, increase to 1.8 Bcf per day for May 7-9, then fall slightly to 1.65 Bcf per day until work finishes on May 13.
The Platts Atlas of Energy Transition is your map to the sustainable commodity markets of the future. You can explore the Atlas by visiting the address displayed on your screen. Thanks for kicking off your Monday with us and have a great week ahead.