Crude oil and RBOB futures prices picked up on Tuesday after experiencing losses the previous day, while diesel prices dipped. The surge in prices coincided with the US’s threat to reimpose sanctions that would hinder Venezuelan exports and reports of Saudi Aramco postponing its plans to increase oil output in the coming years. Although these developments are not expected to have an immediate impact on oil production, they contribute to market sentiment.
Crude Oil Prices
US crude prices soared by more than $1/bbl, with the NYMEX March West Texas Intermediate crude contract rising $1.15 to $77.93/bbl, nearly touching the day’s highest price. The April contract followed suit and climbed $1.10 to reach $77.77/bbl. Meanwhile, European benchmark Brent crude recorded more modest gains, as the March Globex contract increased by 69cts to $83.09/bbl, and the April contract rose by 78cts to $82.61/bbl.
March RBOB contracts attracted significant attention as the end of January approached. Prices for the March contract advanced by 2.15cts, settling at $2.2861/gal, just shy of the session’s peak. February prices also experienced an uptick, rising by 2.38cts to reach $2.2523/gal.
In contrast, ULSD contracts showed a decline for the second consecutive day, with March prices falling by 1.69cts to $2.7797/gal and February prices shedding 2.03cts to settle at $2.8136/gal. These losses were driven by concerns surrounding Chinese energy demand, as the real estate sector experiences ongoing issues following a court order to liquidate China Evergrande Group. The potential failure of this leading real estate company poses a significant threat to the country’s economic sector and has implications for energy consumption.
Saudi Aramco Maintains Maximum Oil Capacity, Halts Expansion Plans
Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil company, has recently announced that it will continue to operate at a maximum capacity of 12 million barrels per day (b/d). This decision comes as a response to the significant growth of oil production in the United States. Contrary to speculation, it is not an indication of concerns about global energy demand.
Furthermore, the Biden administration has declared that it will not renew a license allowing sanctions relief to Venezuela’s oil and gas sector beyond April 18. This marks a change in policy that was previously agreed upon to ensure fair elections in Venezuela. The decision to reimpose penalties is a result of the arrest of opposition members and the exclusion of candidates from the upcoming presidential election.
Spot markets across the country have witnessed a rise in gasoline prices, particularly in San Francisco and Los Angeles markets. This increase can be attributed to the forthcoming shift to summer blend specifications.
The prices of Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) have also experienced notable gains after a 13-day period of losses. Both D6 ethanol RINs and D4 biodiesel RINs have seen an increase of 2.5cts.