Thursday – Oil and Natural Gas Previews


We get both EIA inventory reports today; first gas at the regularly scheduled time (10:35 EST) followed by oil at 11:00 am EST. Neither should have much in the way of production impacts from Gustav in them as that was really a this week event however you might see a pickup in gasoline demand prior to the storm that would have made it into the end of last week's numbers. I think the gas number could disappoint which may provide an entry point for UNG calls.

Sentiment Watch: Red except for the refining group who continue to yo-yo in true bottoming fashion. I think the rest of groups get a modest bounce soon as a handfull of prominent traders / investors have announced they are tentatively fishing in the stocks and I don't just mean Cramer.

In Today's Post:

  1. Holdings Watch
  2. Commodity Watch
  3. Oil & Gas Report Previews
  4. Stuff We Care About Today
  5. Odds & Ends

Holdings Watch:

  • DUG Calls - In and out in an hour for a 40% gain as the group opened green against a red backdrop of commodities.
  • TSO - Added TSO October $20 Calls for $1.14 average price.
  • HK   - Took some HK Calls for a quick trade. HK September $30 calls for $1.55 as oil and natural get a little intraday bounce. Stock at $28.25 on execution. This is the 4th trip in the last month into these and again, a quick trade and small.


Commodity Watch:

Crude Oil fell $0.36 to $109.35 yesterday following through on weakness from Tuesday and a slightly stronger dollar. This morning oil is trading up $0.50 to $0.60.

  • OPEC Watch: Venezuela and Iran to argue for production cuts at next week's meeting, Ecuador to argue against them. Meanwhile Brazil continues to mull an offer to join the Cartel.
  • Tropics Watch:
    • Hanna - strictly an east coast event.
    • Ike - Now a Cat 4 hurricane in the middle of the Atlantic and aimed at Florida or Cuba or Hispaniola.
    • Josephine - a tropical storm just behind Ike and headed west.
  • Refiner Watch:  Marathon has requested oil from the SPR to cover Gustav related disruptions while Citgo has withdrawn its request. 11 gulf coast refineries remained offline this morning due to power grid issues; three of these are in the process of restarting...the offline sites represent about 2.5 mm bopd of capacity and this will dent coming week's production as the restrart process will take at least a couple of weeks to get all that capacity back up.

Natural Gas closed flat at $7.26 yesterday after making a run on $7 early in the session; gas fell to just under $7.03 early in the session before finding buyers who noticed that most of the Gulf of Mexico still is not back on line and that the hurricane season is just getting geared up. This morning gas is trading  flattish.

EOG Comments From The Lehman Conference September 2:

  • When do E&P company’s start curtailing production: They basically said that at $8 or above they stay with their current program and if we have a hot winter and prices are closer to $7 (or obviously less) they would scale back spending/drilling/production. They think most of their peers are thinking along the same lines. Note that (UPL) is curtailing 0.1 Bcfgpd of Rockies production due to those low prices Reef pointed out in Wyoming yesterday. More volumes will come with weak prices soon.
  • Gas Well Break Even Economics As EOG Sees Them:
    • Gulf of Mexico: $8.50 to $9.00. I presume he is talking about shallow water (Shelf) plays.
    • U.S. Onshore: most plays need $7.50 gas. I assume he’s taking an average guesstimate here of the conventional and shale plays across the country and it jives with what I’ve read looking at many of the plays and heard from their operators over the last few months.

Charts of Fall/Early Winter Natural Gas Prices. Someone asked the other day if gas prices from here on out this time of year have a general direction. Look at the following end of August to end of year moves in the NYMEX front month contract I'd have to say yes. What happened in 2005? Katrina / Rita sent prices skyrocketing early in the period and profit taking hit before year end as winter weather turned out (luckily for the consumer) to be warmer than usual.

Oil and Natural Gas EIA Inventory Previews

Oil Inventory Preview: (estimates from the Reuters survey)

ZComment: Ho hum estimates which pretty much mimic seasonal norms. I could see a bigger oil stock build  this week on a rise in crude imports pre Gustav. On the gasoline side, I'd honestly be disappointed with such a small draw. Pre storm tank filling from everyone on the Gulf Coast and holiday travel should yield higher gas demand, not to mention the impact of another week of lower pump prices. Whether stabilizing productt demand in the U.S. matters to prices is another matter and I think all trades will focus on what OPEC will do more than current U.S. numbers. LIstening to an analyst who was asked what we should look for in the oil report this morning of CNBC his response was to say oil was going lower as demand overseas fell, especially in India. These are harder numbers to track and he did not answer the question posed which says numbers matter less right now than the amorphous and ubiquitous "demand is falling overseas" comment.

Natural Gas Storage Preview:

  • My Number: 95 Bcf Injection
  • Last year: 38 Bcf
  • 5 Year Average: 59 Bcf


  • Supply: Pretty neutral to year ago numbers.
    • Imports: Imports ran 3.9 Bcfgpd from year ago levels.
      • LNG remained at 0.7 Bcfgpd, down 2.2 Bcfgpd YoY.
      • Canadian piped volumes were 8.2 Bcfgpd, down 1.7 Bcfgpd YoY
    • Production should be running about 4 Bcfgpd high to year ago levels. Click here for last night's gas supply slide show. These macro piece are always archived on the Natural Gas tab.
  • Weather: 59 Cooling degree days vs 81 last year


  • Street Consensus: 88 Bcf injection. Range of 70 to 99 Bcf from the Reuters survey.

ZComment: Should be nothing from Gustav in these numbers, weather was cooler than in the prior week when we saw a build of 102 Bcf but by how much is uncertain since NOAA did not post results for last week. Imports remain week offsetting much if not all of the  YoY production growth.

Stocks We Care About Today:

RIG #s Head Higher. Credit Suisse is taking up their EPS estimates for RIG after looking at yesterday's fleet status report. ?I had said the contracts were on the whole up with new rollevers and this is already filtering through. So despite the retrenchment in oil prices earnings continue to head higher in the offshore drilling space as tightness abounds in the deepwater segment and rates improve (or at least refuse to collapse) in the traditional jack up market.

Newfield Notes from Lehman Yesterday. No rush to add more exposure here given this market but the amount of ignored good news continues to pile up.


  • 170,000 net acres in the Williston
  • prospective for Bakken and Three Forks Sanish, but also Madison, and Red River sections.
  • producing 3,000 bopd net to NFX at present
  • 2 rigs running
  • the success of  sets up 30+ additional locations which keep those rigs busy into 2009

Monument Butte:

  • 7,500 bopd - still excuting primary development on 40 acre spacing and moving down to 20 acre spacing
  • 2 billion barrels of oil in place, only booked 80 mm barrels, over 200 remaining to be booked on 40 acres spacing
  • Ute Tribal acreage, 62,000 net acres adjacent and to the north of Monument Butte, wells looking very good including one 1,000 bopd IP well.
  • The RTA State 41-36TA Well is presently completing. RTA, tech firm,  is excited about the logs on this well. This is the first well drilled in conjunction wtih RTA and Halliburton. Second well is drilling now. These are test five zones including the Mancos Shale.


  • Malaysia - the idea was to tap multiple undeveloped oil fields
    • Now producing 35,000 bopd gross ramping to 45,000 bopd gross by year end
    • 50,000 acre structure being tested in 1Q09
  • China -
    • Pearl River Mouth Basin - first sturcture out of the basin and there more structures in the 10 mm barrel range.


Odds & Ends

Analyst Watch: Dahlman Rose cutting ratings on several drybulkers; (TBSI), (EXM), (DRYS) all go from Buy to Hold, RBC starts (CLR) at market perform with $50 price target, says good company, valuation a little rich.



128 Responses to “Thursday – Oil and Natural Gas Previews”

  1. 1
    Sambone Says:

    Nymex Crude Rises Ahead Of Weekly Oil Data

    8:33 (Dow Jones) Nymex crude rises ahead of 11 a.m. data expected to show a small drop in US crude inventory. A Dow Jones Newswires survey shows projects a 300,000-bbl drop in crude stocks, a 1.5-million bbl drop in gasoline and a 600,000-bbl rise in distillates. The data are for the week ended Aug 29. Nymex Oct crude +70c at $110.05/bbl. (greg.meyer@dowjones.com)

    Crude Up Ahead Of Inventory Data, Storms Eyed
    By Nick Heath


    LONDON — Crude oil futures edged higher in European trade Thursday as caution surrounding tropical storm activity, next week’s meeting of OPEC ministers and a weekly update on U.S. inventory data countered prevailing concerns over the impact of slowing economic growth on oil demand.

    Nymex crude prices climbed back above $110 a barrel briefly Thursday, but analysts suggested prices could now hover around current levels in the short term as the market waits on weather and OPEC developments.

    “We suspect that the markets could tread water for a little while longer until we get some clarity on the current storm systems and more importantly, until the OPEC meeting gets underway next week,” said Edward Meir at MF Global in New York.

    At 1130 GMT, the front-month October Brent contract on London’s ICE futures exchange was up 10 cents at $108.16 a barrel.

    The front-month October light, sweet, crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange was trading 28 cents higher at $109.63 a barrel.

    The ICE’s gasoil contract for September delivery was up $13.75 at $988.25 a metric ton, while Nymex gasoline for October delivery was up 108 points at 277.76 cents a gallon.

    Analysts surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires are divided on likely changes in last week’s U.S. crude oil inventory levels, with nine of the 16 surveyed predicting a build and seven a draw. The average of their forecasts is for a draw of 0.3 million barrels. More of a consensus surrounds the outlook for gasoline. All but two analysts expect a draw, and gasoline stocks are expected to have fallen 1.3 million barrels on average. Distillates are seen building slightly, while refinery utilization is expected to have fallen slightly, down 0.3 percentage points to 87.0% of capacity.

    While the readings will offer insight on the health of U.S. demand, with the report covering the period prior to the majority of production shut-ins and refinery closures that preceded and followed Hurricane Gustav, this week’s data may elicit a limited response, a number of analysts suggested.

    “(Today’s) storage reports from the government will serve as the lounge act for next week’s reports which will bear the impact from the shut-ins related to Gustav,” said Stephen Schork, editor of The Schork report.

    Thursday’s data — delayed a day due to the U.S. Labor Day holiday — will be published at 1500 GMT Thursday. The publication time is also slightly later than normal, pushed back to avoid a clash with publication of U.S. weekly natural gas storage data scheduled for 1435 GMT.

    Market participants continued to eye a procession of tropical storms traversing the Atlantic Thursday, particularly Hurricane Ike, upgraded to a category four hurricane early Thursday. While its potential as a threat to the Gulf of Mexico remains uncertain, its presence left the market nonetheless cautious, analysts said. Even if the impact of another hurricane is limited to precautionary shutdowns, the cumulative effect could toll increasingly on both supplies and prices.

    “Even if it’s precautionary it still causes disruption — it’s not just a case of (refiners and producers) hitting the on/off switch. We don’t know how many times it will cause disruption — but the fear is (the shutdowns) back up and back up,” said James Hughes, market analyst at CMC Markets in London.

    According to the latest situation report from the U.S. Department of Energy published Wednesday afternoon, 13 of 33 refineries in Gustav’s path remained shut in, accounting for nearly 2.5 million barrels a day of refining capacity. Nearly 96% of the U.S. Gulf of Mexico’s oil production remains shut-in, the Minerals Management Service reported.

    Market participants continued to monitor currency moves Thursday. While analysts debate whether crude is following the dollar or vice versa, the factors influencing the dollar’s strength have nonetheless offered an indication for the outlook for global demand and crude oil prices, with growth, rather than interest rates, now driving currencies.

    “Now we see more evidence of slowing growth in Europe, with the credit crisis in the U.S. spreading globally,” said Andrey Kryuchenkov, analyst at Sucden Research in London.

    “Fears of waning demand for energy amid slowing global growth are likely to dominate the market in the near term, with investors keeping a close watch on OPEC’s regular meeting on September 9th,” he said.

    Despite growing recession fears, both the Bank of England and the European Central Bank left interest rates on hold Thursday.

    Meanwhile, despite hawkish comments from some members, OPEC is broadly expected to leave its production levels unchanged when it meets in Vienna next week. However, crude’s price activity in the run-up to the gathering could prove influential in shaping OPEC’s decision, a number of analysts said, with falling prices amid signs of global economic slowdown of increasing concern to producers.

    “Weak global economic activity and oil demand destruction is the dominant market concern,” said analysts at KBC Market Services. “Further impending hurricanes may postpone a quick test of $100 and limit pressure on OPEC to reduce output at its 9 September meeting…but OPEC knows that it must reduce supplies at some point in the coming months and any return to double digit crude prices may be of short duration.”

    -By Nick Heath, Dow Jones Newswires

  2. 2
    zman Says:

    Sam – Ike starting to look like an east coast of Florida event on the track.

    ECB sees lower growth, more inflation. Welcome to the party pal.

  3. 3
    zman Says:

    Comments from conversation with NFX: investors at the lehman conference all expect $6 natural gas in perpetuity. Everyone waiting for a perceived round of capital budget cuts before getting happy with the E&P sector.

  4. 4
    zman Says:

    Looks like other people are worried about a bigger than consensus gas storage injection too. Gas off a dime now with little guidance from oil.

  5. 5
    zman Says:

    Tater – how do I get to your pages on individual companies? The last link took me to CLR. Was looking for TSO and VLO which both look to be turning up off of bottoms.

  6. 6
    Garyinhou Says:

    Z.. you see the news release re: clr? Lots of good stuff.. but of course results don’t matter anymore since we all switched to bicycles, ceilings fans, and french fry grease.

  7. 7
    Sambone Says:

    By Gregory Meyer

    NEW YORK (Dow Jones)–Crude oil futures steadied Thursday ahead of weekly data
    expected to show a slight drawdown in U.S. oil inventories.
    Light, sweet crude for October delivery was recently down 8 cents, or 0.1%, at
    $109.27 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude on the ICE
    Futures exchange was 28 cents lower at $107.78 a barrel.
    Closely watched weekly U.S. oil inventory data is due out at 11 a.m. EDT,
    later than usual because of the Labor Day holiday this week. Analysts surveyed
    by Dow Jones Newswires predict a 300,000-barrel drop in crude stocks, a
    1.5-million barrel drop in gasoline stocks and a 600,000-barrel rise in
    distillates stocks.
    The rate of refinery use is expected to decline by 0.3 percentage point to
    87.0% of capacity. The data are for the week ended Aug. 29.
    Crude sold off earlier this week after Hurricane Gustav left little lasting
    damage to energy infrastructure on the U.S. Gulf Coast. As of Wednesday, about
    95.8% of oil output remained shut in, the U.S. Minerals Management Service
    Another hurricane moving west across the Atlantic Ocean began to capture the
    market’s attention, however. Ike became a Category 4 hurricane Thursday with
    sustained winds of 145 mph, the National Hurricane Center said, adding it
    considered the storm “extremely dangerous.”
    The dollar was moving uncertainly as European Central Bank President
    Jean-Claude Trichet warned of continued inflation risk in the medium term
    despite signs of a weakening euro-zone economy. The euro was recently $1.4485
    from $1.4504 late Wednesday.
    The oil market “is holding steady this morning in spite of some firming in the
    dollar against the euro. It appears that the market is being forced to discount
    the possibility of some renewed disruptions of oil facilities in the Gulf coast
    region due to Ike,” said Jim Ritterbusch, president of energy trading adviser
    Ritterbusch and Associates in Galena, Ill.
    Front-month October reformulated gasoline blendstock, or RBOB, rose 62 points,
    or 0.2% to $2.7730 a gallon. October heating oil fell 1.10 cents, or 0.4%, to
    $3.0678 a gallon.

    -By Gregory Meyer, Dow Jones Newswires
    Dow Jones Newswires
    09-04-08 0945ET

  8. 8
    zman Says:

    Gary – no I did not, saw the RBC note and did not scroll down, will have a look when I stop using the hand crank to power this PC.

  9. 9
    tater Says:

    Did some work on CRR last night. Post at link. I will get the refiners back up in a couple of minutes, too many charts to manage effectively (so viewership was going down). Trying to go with the idea of less is more and focus on just one or two names a day.


  10. 10
    zman Says:

    CLR – good release. Nice Three Forks Sanish tests in there and also 2 good Woodford wells which I think the Street sometimes forgets they have. Does not matter today, at least pre oil #s. Need to go back and see where these wells are on the map to see if one of them, a fairly low rate TFS test, lies on the fringe of the play or not.

  11. 11
    zman Says:

    Thanks T, just curious what you think of the move in TSO here, don’t really need a chart.

  12. 12
    Sambone Says:

    Z – #2, Looks like “Hanna” will hit SC/NC and graze the coast. “IKE” looks like another Andrew. A high is expected over TN when it hits, so that should block it from hitting upper East coast. Looks like Florida/Miami will be hit with a Cat 5-3. “IKE” may then enter the GOM.


    Click “FWD” on right.

  13. 13
    Dman Says:

    Z – given EOG’s comments on $8.50-$9 break even for shallow water GOM, wouldn’t the unhedged players be a bit on the slow side to restart?

  14. 14
    zman Says:

    Dman – I hear ya but it looks like that would not move the needle on gas prices so then they just miss their production targets (which the Street might excuse). I think they know its the onshore guys like CHK who are just producing a heck of a lot of gas and until price takes care of price nothing the Gomex shelf players could do, names like SGY, CPE, EPL, would matter.

  15. 15
    tater Says:

    Seeing FTO VLO and SUN all running into resistance on the daily charts (and pulling back accordingly) and TSO attempting to breakout but got cut off on the 15 min chart. I will spend some time on TSO this morning (but looks to be having trouble as we speak).

  16. 16
    zman Says:

    Tater – agreed, and I don’t so much care for my October calls, but am thinking to punt the Sept’s pre #s.

  17. 17
    zman Says:

    90 Bcf injection. That’s not too bad considering the weather and last week’s number.

  18. 18
    zman Says:

    NG relatively unchanged post number.

    Broad market looking pathetic and seems to be the reason the group gave up its opening green, coming off lows now but oil looking a little weak pre oil inventory numbers.

  19. 19
    zman Says:

    crude – down 1.9 mm barrels
    gaso – down 1 mm barrels
    dist – down by ….

    gasoline demand held steady (slightly up) at 9.424 mm bpd

    distillate moved up too.

    Oil still not certain how to react was down $1.30 pre number, now off about $0.50.

  20. 20
    Fred Says:

    dist down 0.4 mm barrels

  21. 21
    tater Says:

    Worked the 60 min and 15 min looks on TSO. Problems with RSI and Stochastics (math indicators). Not in concert with the breakout attempt. May need to get up more momentum at a lower price, or just might be bigger players doing the shake-out routine. Hard to say. Probably reacting to oil numbers by now.

  22. 22
    zman Says:

    crude was down due to higher demand from refiners as capacity crept back up. You’ll see that demand fall off next week with all the site shutterings.

    Thanks Fred, was searching for it. Heating oil flat on that as the Street was looking for a build. These were kind of ho-hum numbers. Next week will be the crazy numbers and OPEC so market may just yawn at the #s for a bit.

  23. 23
    zman Says:

    Thanks T – not much to get excited about in the oil numbers either way today.

    Sane if you see the API #s would you be so kind as to post?

  24. 24
    tater Says:

    Wow, had my head burried, looking for an entry for CRR and didn’t notice the general market. Need more eyes.

  25. 25
    zman Says:

    Hear ya T, happened to me earlier. Dollar rallying again of a sudden is keeping pressure on oil.

    CRR – still not playing, valuation a little rich for a service name and if they decide to sell it that will be the excuse. Rumors are spreading that those budget cuts are coming which will may mean less proppant needed.

  26. 26
    BossmanG Says:

    wow, hk 40’s evaporate once again

  27. 27
    zman Says:

    Tell me about it. No sustainable trend in the group or the broad market for that matter.

    Oil down almost $2.25 now on the dollar, NG off $0.20.

  28. 28
    tater Says:

    Thanks. Days like today I just move my attention to the SPY (maybe I should remember to have the discipline to start there?). Had my finger on the button with CRR, almost. I’ve been getting very lucky lately, that never lasts. Need to be more careful. Good luck today, thanks again for the help.

  29. 29
    zman Says:

    Got sent a piece by Cramer saying the sell down in commodities is not near completion since everyone is watching it. He says the stocks will keep going down since they have gone up so much no value guys will touch them. He says the shorts are jumping on the group as funds liquidate for redemptions. Agree that that is what this action looks like and I that the only thing that turns the commodities is OPEC or a very bad Gulf storm and producer curtailments.

  30. 30
    BirdsofpreyRcool Says:

    i was wondering which asset class Wilbur Ross would be interested in next. after his huge call on the steel industry, he turned his focus on automotive. don’t think he did much there (smart move). anyway, he told bloomberg TV todya that he might invest in refiners on expectations that crude prices wil fall below $100. Wilbur is one of the best at spotting asset rich, undervalued investments that benefit from long-term trends. his moves are certainly worth watching.

  31. 31
    zman Says:

    Hear ya Bird, refiners the only thing that comes even close to working in this market and then only 1 out of 3 days. Have you seen anything on replacement cost valuations for the group? I asked around about consolidation among or of the independents and got a resounding “not going to happen any time soon from IR guys”. They basically said everybody just wants to sell off assets now.

  32. 32
    md Says:

    Do you see any postive reaction from the street coming off of next weeks report if refined product inventories are down by the 17 million barrels that’s anticipated.
    Add to that imports and 96% of GOMEX oil shut in. Looking at 2005, while CL seems to have held steady crack spreads went up.

  33. 33
    mahout Says:

    RIG is incredibly cheap at 120. Too bad it just doesn’t matter right now. But someday it will, perhaps before the end of the year. I want to pull the trigger so bad but I won’t for fear of the knife.

    Everyone speculating on OPEC’s pronouncements, some hold, some a cut. I believe what they say and what they do are two different things and I keep my faith in their greed and shortsightedness. Bottom line, I will be very surprised if they can stomach a Cl price threatening to slip below 100. IKN

  34. 34
    BirdsofpreyRcool Says:

    VLO tried to sell 3 refiners recently, but didn’t like the bids that came back (assuming there were any). So, not clear what the current “market value” of the assets are.

    As far as replacement value. Haven’t looked in a few months… will have to go back over my notes. It’s pretty tough (as you know) as never apples-to-apples with the complexity rating. The Reliance Refinery in India is probably a good one to start with. But that is built to take the really crappy stuff coming out of the Middle East, so not a good comp for most of our US capacity.

    Will check and get back to you. I guarantee that Wilbur knows the asset values. And he likes to buy dollars for nickels…

  35. 35
    mahout Says:

    Appreciate very much your fine charts and comments. I vote for you everytime.
    Particularly interested in TSO right now and it looks to me like we’ll get one more good entry point on a dip and then make a breakout. I can hope anyway.

  36. 36
    Sambone Says:

    NEW YORK (Dow Jones)–U.S. crude inventories fell more than analysts’
    expectations last week, according to data released Thursday by the the U.S.
    Department of Energy.
    Crude oil stockpiles declined by 1.9 million barrels to 303.9 million barrels,
    compared with an average survey estimate of a 300,000-barrel decrease.
    The set of weekly data doesn’t fully capture the effect of Hurricane Gustav.
    Many oil production facilities and refineries began shutting down over the
    weekend ahead of the storm’s landfall in Louisiana on the Labor Day holiday
    Petroleum product stocks posted declines.
    Gasoline stockpiles slumped by 1 million to 194.4 million barrels, the
    department’s Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report,
    compared with a forecast for a 1.5-million-barrel drop in a Dow Jones Newswires
    survey of analysts.
    Distillate stocks, which include heating oil and diesel fuel, were 400,00
    barrels lower at 131.7 million barrels, compared with analysts’ forecast of a
    600,000-barrel increase.
    Refining capacity utilization unexpectedly rose by 1.4 percentage points to
    88.7%. Analysts had expected a decline of 0.3 percentage point.
    U.S. Oil Inventories:
    For week ended Aug. 29:
    Crude Distillates Gasoline Refinery Use
    EIA data: -1.9 -0.4 -1.0 +1.4
    Forecast: -0.3 +0.6 -1.5 -0.3
    Figures in millions of barrels, except for refining use, which is reported in
    percentage points. Forecasts are the average of expectations in a Dow Jones
    Newswires survey of analysts earlier in the week.

    -By Anna Raff, Dow Jones Newswires
    Dow Jones Newswires
    09-04-08 1118ET

  37. 37
    zman Says:

    MD – I think the Street discounts the numbers heavily, that OPEC rules the week. Cracks probably improve though as you point out.

    Mahout – I think the closer we are to $100 the closer they come to making an official cut. I think what they are more likely to do is to say they are going to get in line with production quotas.

    Bird – thanks, just morbid curiosity in trying to understand what the refining analysts may be thinking about recommending the group right now.

  38. 38
    zman Says:

    First time in recent memory a gas storage number has not resulted in a high single digit % loss in NG prices. $7 floor? Its so negative out there with even Cramer abandoning his gas price oil parity argument and just saying they are all going down something has to give soon.

  39. 39
    BirdsofpreyRcool Says:

    very broad rule of thumb: $30,000+ per Bbl of capacity to build a new refinery. good place to start.

  40. 40
    zman Says:

    Thanks Bird.

    Honestly I have not heard any analyst stepping out there with a buy the refining sector.

    They’re into “shut everything down and make like a hole in the water” mode. Radio silence.

  41. 41
    BirdsofpreyRcool Says:

    re #40: no reason to step in front of the train, i guess.

    which makes takes me back to the Wilbur Ross comment. he started buying steel mills about 3-4 YEARS before analysts “turned positive” on the sector. buying difficult to replace, hard assets for nickels on the dollar is a great way to make real money. key is to buy cheap, then don’t watch for several years. Warren Buffet has made a little money investing this way too.

  42. 42
    Nicky Says:

    Morning all. Or should I say afternoon now…

    Broader market – 1243 is the 61.8% retracement of the rally from 1200.44 to 1313.50 high.
    Support was at the 1254 – 61 area so that has now turned into resistance.

  43. 43
    zman Says:

    Bob Pisani on CNBC saying the mood amongst traders is sour b/c there is no way to make money in this market. Combine that with the wise words of a friend who told me once, when in doubt, trade less (which is what I am doing) and you’ve got how I see the world at the moment.

  44. 44
    Nicky Says:

    Anybody hear Dennis Gartman this morning on the commodity subject. Said that most the pension funds did not start getting in until April and are now looking at huge losses in what should never have been considered an asset class. He reckons once the board meetings begin and these guys are ordered to get out of these positions it could get very ugly.

  45. 45
    ram Says:

    Uglier than now?

  46. 46
    zman Says:

    Nicky – was he saying they just started investing in crude oil and other commodities or was he saying they just got long energy equities?

  47. 47
    zman Says:

    He must have meant the commodities.

  48. 48
    zman Says:

    and if the pension funds hold a ton of futures they must be doing it via ICE or some other exchange because the WTI contracts reported by the CFTC as longs held by non-commercials (speculators) are a low 17,000 now which is about half the short position (32,000 contracts) held by the non-commercials.

  49. 49
    reefguy Says:

    Check out these postings:
    Henry Hub-$7.25
    Carthage- $6.74
    Opal, Wy. $2.40
    Blanco, NM(San Jaun)-$5.31

  50. 50
    zman Says:

    Reef – did you see UPL is going to curtail? And SD may trim their early expectation for 2009 capex? EOG basically said the cuts are around the corner below $8 gas.

  51. 51
    Nicky Says:

    Commodities Z – the so called ‘speculators’ he said. Basically they were far too late to the party but caused that spike to 147. Now they are looking at losses of 30% which will be totally unacceptable to their investors and when they are told to liquidate it will get uglier…(yes than now Ram).

  52. 52
    zman Says:

    That Barnett number is a killer. CHK has put on PR’s this time of year for the last two years talking about slowing down hook ups in the Barnett….time for one of those.

    Nicky – that case, I’ll take a look at the historical open interest and long position of the NYMEX crude positions. Like I said, the short position is twice is big as the long now.

  53. 53
    reefguy Says:

    Z- Barnett numbers are lousy. Grouped in with west tx gas(SD) UPL only down 2.25 percent of 100mmcfpd curtailment???

  54. 54
    Nicky Says:

    When asked whether he knew of any Hedge Funds in trouble he said absolutely and said there were a couple of big traders who regularly feature on CNBC who are in trouble.

  55. 55
    Nicky Says:

    5 waves down now from 1275. Once this concludes we should see at the least a 3 wave bounce back to the 1260 area spx.

  56. 56
    zman Says:

    Nicky – thanks, just like to do some checks for myself. Last year (2007) WTI long contracts (reported weekly) for speculators ranged from a low of 87,000 to a high of 103,000. Like I said above, they now hold 17,000 contracts long so either they own them so other way or I’m missing where this big selling pressure is going to come from. I have no doubt there are more hedge funds in trouble, just trying to put a little math on it.

  57. 57
    zman Says:

    Reef – who knows re UPL, maybe the lack of a bigger drop is a reward for doing the right thing. CHK and others really need to fire up the press releases and have the discipline to say that growth at any price is stupid and that they won’t sell gas at a loss.

  58. 58
    Nicky Says:

    Agree Z – it doesnt add up. And I don’t think the selling pressure is going to come immediately myself. Still looking for a decent rally….would like to see a lower low first though.

  59. 59
    zman Says:

    Here ya Nicky, may not matter if it does not add up if the perception is out there that a bunch of funds will be getting out of dodge (oil).

    I’m still on the wrong side of the trade. Will likely just go to cash except for stock positions and a few refining calls and wait for stability to ensue taking calls on DUG from time to time.

  60. 60
    BirdsofpreyRcool Says:

    when buyers go on strike, the mrkt only has one direction to go. no reason to buy right now.

  61. 61
    BirdsofpreyRcool Says:

    Fed’s Fisher speaking today… sees anemic growth in US over next couple of quarters and a “50% chance inflation will accelerate.”

    what the heck does THAT mean? 50/50 means “i have absolutely NO IDEA what is going to happen.” and this guy votes on interest rate changes. sheesh.

  62. 62
    zman Says:

    Next big green day (yes, they will come again) if Ike steers correctly for a few hours for instance and I take a bigger bite of the dug and punt the remaining E&P calls for awhile.

    Bird – between that and the fact that the fed just takes its old press release and changes a word here and there each month it makes you wonder if watching the economy is much more than a hobby for these guys.

  63. 63
    BirdsofpreyRcool Says:

    for me, greenspan lost his halo in 1999. bernanke never earned his. and fisher wears coke-bottle glasses.

    sad stuff, really.

  64. 64
    tater Says:

    Thanks mahout #35, I appreciate that.
    Tough day to make anything out of the charts. Broader market is off so hard (and possibly heading for some real trouble) that it is hard to give a particular name’s price action any attention, much like the Jan sell off.
    Actually had to turn on CNBC to stay current. Gotta love Dennis the dbag. I think my kid knows more about money.

  65. 65
    zman Says:

    ZTRADE: Added DUG $40 September Calls for $2.60 for another quick trade as we await some sort of stability in the energy groups.

  66. 66
    zman Says:

    Tater – note the XOI (the Big Oil stocks) broke down today. OIH broke two days ago. XNG (the gassy stocks) next?

  67. 67
    Nicky Says:

    Agree re Dennis dbag (great name btw) Tater – talk about rose tinted spectacles!

    Broader market – still favoring that we are in a B wave down which (not helpfully to be honest!) can quite easily retest the lows or not! Then a catapault higher into the end of October/early November for C. There is a much more bearish count which says we are already in 3 down but it doesn’t tie in with the cycles for me so I am favoring the former count for now. There is a Bradley turn date on the 9th September – it may mark a low and it could be in the region of 11100 on the Dow and 1220 – 30 on SPX.

  68. 68
    Nicky Says:

    I am inclined to agree with Bob Pisani who I think it was who just said that even if tomorrow’s non farm payrolls are bad they are probably already priced in with today’s fall.

  69. 69
    Nicky Says:

    CNBC – ‘Is oil’s plunge crushing stocks?’

  70. 70
    zman Says:

    Nicky – can I get the short tutorial on a Bradley turn?

    Re: CNBC and oil fall crushing stocks: priceless.

  71. 71
    VTZ Says:

    Brilliant… considering on the run up of oil they were saying “Is oil’s rise crushing stocks?”

    Not to mention the fact that they should be saying “Is the financial mess and rebounding dollar for no reason crushing stocks?”

  72. 72
    zman Says:

    CNBC sometimes make me want to short GE.

  73. 73
    md Says:

    What is usually spread between barnett and HHub. Where is that info avail.
    When EOG says 7-8 breakeven what would barnett be

  74. 74
    Nicky Says:

    You will love this Z – makes me sound even whackier than I am!
    But it’s widely followed:


  75. 75
    md Says:

    Think of the C as Comedy and you’ll be ok

  76. 76
    zman Says:

    By the way, coal stocks getting bagged even worse than oil and gas yet again.

  77. 77
    Sambone Says:

    NEW YORK, Sept 4 (Reuters) – Oil and natural gas production
    in the Gulf of Mexico continued a slow recovery on Thursday as
    companies restarted operations in the wake of Hurricane Gustav,
    according to a government report.
    As of 11:30 a.m. CDT (1630 GMT), 95.2 percent of U.S. oil
    production and 87.5 percent of U.S. natural gas production from
    the Gulf of Mexico remained shut, from 95.8 percent and 91.6
    percent respectively on Wednesday, the Minerals Management
    Service said.

    Thu Sep 4 17:59:09 2008 -GMT

  78. 78
    zman Says:

    It varies and I don’t have a recent differential table in front of me but that spread to Nymex for the Barnett is high to normal. Oil and gas investor would be a source or oil daily. Reef probably has a better idea than myself. When they are saying $7 to $8 they are talking about, most likely, the 12 month strip.

  79. 79
    zman Says:

    Thanks Sam, forgot to go look at 2 EST.

    Ike less of a storm by the way, still bad for Miami folks.

  80. 80
    md Says:

    Nicky — Who wouldve thought.
    The bloom is off the Rose.

  81. 81
    zman Says:

    Wow DUG spike.

  82. 82
    Nicky Says:

    Bill Gross from Pimco saying he is sitting on the sidelines and it is time for the Treasury to step up to the plate regarding Fannie and Freddie.

  83. 83
    reefguy Says:

    78- The waha(barnett) to henry Hub(nymex) diffential is around .70 typically. The current spread is $1.76

  84. 84
    tater Says:

    Regarding XNG, when looking for a “big” breakdown I tend to look to a longer-term chart. The weekly view seems to work best for me. I see 530 as the breakdown level there before I would snicker at the longside trade. Not quite down there yet and I could actually be persuaded that it could be in for a bounce.

    Going to Bloomberg on the xm radio now. I like Erin Bernett, but listening to Pimco man point at Paulson and knowing that Paulson is counting on Gross, my stomach is really beginning to churn. It really is banana time at the monkey house.

  85. 85
    zman Says:

    Reef – EOG said they are seeing transportation constraints out of the basin, and some processing limits being reached at present…said it should be taken care of by December. If I were a local I’d have to be thinking about cutting back until then or at least slowing down some hookups.

  86. 86
    zman Says:

    NG positive now.

  87. 87
    zman Says:

    And thanks Reef for 83.

  88. 88
    tater Says:


    Change support level to 545 on the weekly view. I like the log chart better, I won’t bore you with the reasons.

  89. 89
    Sambone Says:

    By Anna Raff and Rose Marton

    NEW YORK (Dow Jones)–Short-term stresses appearing in the U.S. petroleum
    supply chain following Hurricane Gustav may lead to higher gasoline and diesel
    prices in the long term.
    While no significant damage has been reported since Gustav made landfall in
    Louisiana as a powerful hurricane on Monday, many refineries, pipeline pumping
    stations and port facilities remain without power from the electricity grid.
    The main utility there says full restoration could take weeks.
    Companies are procuring or starting back-up power generators, but refiners say
    following complete shutdowns it could take weeks to resume processing crude oil
    into products at normal rates. This tight supply situation is compounded by
    problems further inland. Because a key pipeline delivering crude from the Gulf
    of Mexico to a major Midwest oil hub will reopen this weekend at the earliest,
    refiners are scrambling. Marathon Oil Corp. (MRO) requested a loan from the
    nation’s strategic stockpiles for plants in Illinois and Kentucky.
    In the Gulf Coast, prices for gasoline for immediate delivery, known as the
    “spot” market, have soared despite weaker benchmark gasoline futures. Regular
    unleaded gasoline traded 35 cents over the October contract on the New York
    Mercantile Exchange on Thursday morning before falling back to a relatively
    high 30-cent premium.
    “The spot pool tends to dry up when sellers turn into buyers,” a Gulf
    Coast-based trader said, referring to refiners, who usually sell into the spot
    market to offload excess oil products.
    Reformulated-gasoline blendstock recently traded 0.5% lower at $2.7537 a
    gallon on the Nymex. The perception that oil product supply problems will be
    quickly resolved explains the discrepancy between spot and futures prices.
    Traders expect most refiners affected by Hurricane Gustav to be up and running
    by the time delivery against the October Nymex contract rolls around. Also,
    before the hurricane struck, U.S. gasoline demand was weak, and the system had
    some slack. This stands in sharp contrast to the situation in 2005, when
    hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck when demand was growing.
    However, perceptions in oil markets can quickly shift. If refiners take longer
    than expected to achieve normal processing rates or if inventories plunge to
    uncomfortably low levels, then prices may be pressured upward.
    “There is no question this will put down inventories,” Bill Klesse, chief
    executive of Valero Energy Corp. (VLO), the largest independent refiner in the
    U.S., told investors Thursday. Klesse noted the disconnect between markets.

    -By Anna Raff, Dow Jones Newswires
    Dow Jones Newswires
    09-04-08 1426ET

  90. 90
    zman Says:

    Thanks T

    Gas closing up 7 cents, rally may be due to latest Ike spaghetti chart which puts a little more weight on a trip towards the Gulf.


    Thanks Sam for 89, pretty prop refining at least near term for their cracks.

  91. 91
    tater Says:

    Actually Z, take a quick 3 year Weekly view on XOI and OIH. I actually see them holding support levels. This might be time to strap on a pair (I can’t seem to find mine at the moment). I will post in a couple minutes.

  92. 92
    ram Says:

    ZMAN – DUG coming in a little close to the ZTRADE. Is this trade for a lower low in oil?

  93. 93
    zman Says:

    Thanks T, will watch for it.

    Ram – its for a sell off into the close and ugly open in the morning, just a gut feeling.

    Wow Re CLR – their news would have been worth $10 per share 2 months ago.

  94. 94
    tomdavis12 Says:

    Z: APA very strong on tough day

  95. 95
    BirdsofpreyRcool Says:

    fwiw, we are at a very unstable point in the mrkt from a cross-asset-class perspective. the last time the high yield CDS index was this wide, the spx was at 1285. the JPMo CDS desk is recommending unwinding the long-hycdx/short stocks trade. so, either stocks should bounce here… or the credit mrkt will get a lot worse. bottom line: watching the fixed income market is pretty key, here.

  96. 96
    zman Says:

    Tom – yes, been flattish all day and improved with the group this afternoon. Same for NFX and DNR, and more recently XTO and RRC.

  97. 97
    tater Says:

    I am standing by my charts today. Added the XNG, XOI, and OIH 5 year weekly charts. I see support holding on all of them for now.


  98. 98
    tomdavis12 Says:

    Z: Did you notice anything from NFX re their Lehman Presentation.

  99. 99
    zman Says:

    Thanks T – interesting

    Tom – just the stuff I put in the post. Nothing earth shattering. They are getting 3,000 bopd out of the Williston and hit on their first 2 Bakken wells but nobody cared yesterday. Interesting to see them move in hear but I think it is more of a build on what is green day than a hey look at what they’ve got going on day.

  100. 100
    Sambone Says:

    By Gregory Meyer

    NEW YORK (Dow Jones)–A losing streak in crude oil futures notched another
    session Thursday, as a resurgent dollar and flagging demand weighed on prices.
    Light, sweet crude for October delivery settled at $107.89 a barrel, $1.46 or
    1.3% lower on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Crude has now dropped for five
    straight sessions, a streak last matched in May 2007.
    Brent crude on the ICE Futures exchange closed at $106.44 a barrel, down
    $1.62. Brent settlement prices weren’t immediately available.
    The dollar hit its highest level this year against the euro after a
    brighter-than-expected report on the U.S. service sector and downgraded growth
    expectations from the European Central Bank. The euro recently fell as low as
    $1.4351, beating its previous 2008 low of $1.4365 and diminishing
    dollar-denominated commodities’ role as a haven from a falling greenback.
    The market paid little mind to declines in U.S. crude, gasoline and
    distillates stockpiles reported by the U.S. Energy Information Administration
    in weekly statistics. The EIA also confirmed that demand in the U.S. is
    steadily shrinking, with gasoline demand down 1.6% and total oil demand down
    3.5% from last year, amid high prices and weak U.S. economic performance.
    “The dollar is up. There’s more concerns about the economy, not just in the
    U.S. but elsewhere,” said Antoine Halff, deputy head of research at brokerage
    Newedge USA in New York. “There also seems to be some impact from diminished
    liquidity,” with investment funds reducing positions in the oil market, he
    Traders are increasingly eyeing next Tuesday’s policy meeting of the
    Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries for a sense of market direction.
    OPEC is anticipated to keep official output steady, though top producer Saudi
    Arabia is feeling pressure from other members to revoke a production boost it
    began this spring.
    “The expectation going into next week’s OPEC meeting is that we will not see a
    cut in production quotas. So we’re still in this overall bearish supply and
    demand pattern,” said Tim Evans, energy analyst at Citi Futures Perspective in
    New York.
    Crude futures have slipped in the last week despite Hurricane Gustav’s
    landfall Monday on the oil-rich U.S. Gulf Coast. The U.S. Minerals Management
    Service reported Thursday that about 95.2% of oil output remains shut in after
    the storm, though no major destruction was reported on offshore platforms.
    While Louisiana refineries survived the storm, many were idled by power
    “As long as companies report no long-term damage, oil prices are not likely to
    spike significantly higher due to the effects of Hurricane Gustav, and may even
    continue the downward trend that began in mid-July as a result of perceived
    softening in world crude oil market fundamentals,” the EIA said in Thursday’s
    “This Week In Petroleum” report.
    Nymex crude is down 27% from its $147.27 trading high reached July 11.
    A new potential weather threat loomed in Hurricane Ike, which became an
    “extremely dangerous” Category 4 hurricane Thursday with sustained winds of 145
    mph, the National Hurricane Center said.
    Front-month October reformulated gasoline blendstock, or RBOB, fell 2.64
    cents, or 1%, to $2.7404 a gallon. October heating oil fell 5.51 cents, or
    1.8%, to $3.0237 a gallon.

    -By Gregory Meyer, Dow Jones Newswires

    Dow Jones Newswires
    09-04-08 1517ET

  101. 101
    Fred Says:

    Tater – re#84 thanks for the laugh and where is Jim Bunning when we need him?

  102. 102
    reefguy Says:

    txco-look at Morgan Keegan presentation they made yesterday in Memphis…Pearsall shale

  103. 103
    zman Says:

    Reef – Have a buddy there, hopefully went to see WEL and GMXR for me this morning. You liking TXCO down here?

  104. 104
    zman Says:

    By the way, on gasoline demand, the 1.6% decline talked about in #100 is the YoY comparison. Gasoline consumption has been holding pretty flat and was down 3% to year ago levels in the last few weeks. Looking at the trajectory of demand, we could actually cross into record demand for the week if people continue to fill up on “cheap” gas. Anyway, the reporter is not being honest when they say demand continued to slip…at least not using the weekly data.

  105. 105
    reefguy Says:

    TXCO- maybe buy soon if the market settles..lol

  106. 106
    antrimshale74 Says:

    Any thoughts on the volume today in OIH and XLE? It looks quite large.

  107. 107
    Bleemus Says:

    Is it possible that someone has access to a weather model that we don’t have access to that shows Ike making it to Gomex? nat gas had a strange little rally today.

  108. 108
    zman Says:

    Antrim will have a look

    Bleemus – could be that someone liked some of the lower tracks seen here:


    I also think part of the reaction today was simply lack of a big sell off on in line numbers. That’s been sort of rare of late.

  109. 109
    zman Says:

    Sam or anyone, do you see an ETF just for the independent refining group? I’ve looked around and can’t find one.

  110. 110
    Fred Says:

    Z – what about UGA?

  111. 111
    zman Says:

    Hmmm, thought that was gasoline itself, will go look at components.

  112. 112
    zman Says:

    Antrim – re those volumes… looks biggish but not out of line…on a big down day like this I’d say it rotational which is normally bad. Tater probably has different thoughts. We did just get most people back from break so you maybe you had some just watching the charts (the daily ones) and just giving up this morning and other doing a little (a very little) fishing this afternoon.

  113. 113
    Fred Says:

    Z – Think your right UGA is gasoline contracts and not refiners.

  114. 114
    zman Says:

    Coal has KOL, surely the refiners have something, just can’t find it.

  115. 115
    Fred Says:

    Z – article from July ’08 says no ETF for refiners yet.


  116. 116
    zman Says:

    Thanks Fred, will look for an index instead. I know there are more than one of those.

  117. 117
    md Says:

    Reef what has been the low and high on the WAHA spread. I assume it’s no different than crack spreads and works on supply/ demand. Any way to capitalise on the spreads ie. Buy Barnett co. shares sell UNG. Will the spread refelct itself in the shares. Is there a 12 month strip.

    CLR- What’s the news

  118. 118
    crysball Says:

    From Rigzone Today :
    “MMS Notes 527 Production Platforms in GOM Still Evacuated, Shut-in
    Minerals Management Service Thursday, September 04, 2008

    Based on data from offshore operator reports submitted to the MMS as of 11:30 a.m. CST today, personnel have been evacuated from a total of 527 production platforms, equivalent to 73.5 % of the 717 manned platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.

    Personnel from 63 rigs have also been evacuated; this is equivalent to 52.1 % of the 121 rigs currently operating in the Gulf.

    From the operators’ reports, it is estimated that approximately 95.2 % of the oil production in the Gulf has been

    shut-in. Estimated current oil production from the Gulf of Mexico is 1.3 million barrels of oil per day. It is also estimated that approximately 87.5 % of the natural gas production in the Gulf has been shut-in. Estimated current natural gas production from the Gulf of Mexico is 7.4 billion cubic feet of gas per day.”

  119. 119
    md Says:

    Are OPEC news conferences usually at 1.30 AM Europe time (for upcoming meeting on Wed.Sep 10)

  120. 120
    Nicky Says:

    Dollar just popped again and euro and pound both dropped another 100 points in minutes. Metals on the edge….

    Ike – I don’t think its likely to head into the Gulf oil patch, should it head west as some tracks are showing then it is still going to be pulled back east at some point and in that case would most likely make a run at the west coast of Florida.

  121. 121
    Nicky Says:

    US futures falling hard again…

  122. 122
    tater Says:

    Antrim re #106 and 112,

    I looked at the 60 min charts for OIH XLE. I don’t really have anything to add. Seems like a big 3 days, might have something to do with futures or just a change in sentiment or risk exposure by the mutual funds/pension funds. Every one of these guys likes to talk like they are big value investors when in fact these big funds play momentum just like everybody else.
    Sorry, I’m not much help here.

  123. 123
    zman Says:

    md – It varies, sometimes the meetings last 2 days, sometimes a few hours. The press conference or official statement comes out afterwards.

  124. 124
    zman Says:

    MD – here is a link that can help you with #117:


  125. 125
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  128. 128
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