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The Energy Report: Empty the Tank

Published 05/22/2024, 09:37 AM

Empty Ideas just empty the tank.  The Biden Administration wants to try to convince Americans that despite being the most anti-fossil fuel administration in history they still want to see low gas prices even as their policies say otherwise. The latest move by the Biden Administration to sell that point to voters is a move to empty the gas tank by releasing 1 million barrels of gasoline from the Northeast gasoline reserve.

The press release on the previously authorized sale of this unused reserve that was created after Hurricane Sandy joyfully exclaimed that “The Biden-Harris Administration is laser-focused on lowering prices at the pump for American families, especially as drivers hit the road for summer driving season,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm.  “By strategically releasing this reserve in between Memorial Day and July 4th, we are ensuring sufficient supply flows to the tri-state and northeast at a time hardworking Americans need it the most.”

Yes! Let them eat cake and burn hydrocarbons. Of course, the amount of gasoline that is to be sold is only about 11 percent of daily demand and the sales will be allocated in quantities of 100,000 barrels more than likely it will be consumed before most of us have breakfast.

And while every gallon might help lower prices, I think it’s rather desperate of the Biden Administration to feel the need to take a victory lap on this gasoline release. Gas prices average about $3.60 per gallon nationwide as of Tuesday, up 6 cents from a year ago, according to AAA.

The administration that has accused the US oil and gas industry of price gouging and war profiteering has shown unusual vitriol against this industry. This is an administration that abused the mission of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve by releasing supplies to try to lower gasoline prices ahead of an election. The continuing intervention by the Biden administration into the global oil markets has not been helpful to the type of investment that this country is going to need to meet our needs and global demand in the future. The timing of the announcement ahead of the Memorial Day holiday weekend with an effort to try to lower prices ahead of the summer driving season or at least trying to give the appearance of doing so.

We know that US consumers are angry about inflation and the Biden administration is concerned because they know that many Americans hold them responsible.

If you look at gasoline demand, there are signs that consumers must cut back because of inflation pressures. And you know that when Americans cut back on driving that is a cut back on their feeling of freedom and their prosperity.

The Biden Administration's consistent metaling in the market along with regulations that create uncertainty has hampered the ingenuity and creativity of the US oil and gas industry. Biden significantly drained the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in 2022 following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, dropping the stockpile to its lowest level since the 1980s.

Instead of working with one of the most dynamic industries in this country, they chose to have an adversarial relationship with this industry. The Biden administration’s policies have been very inflationary. Their foreign policy failures like not avoiding war between Russia and Ukraine as well as the weakening of sanctions on Iran that helped fund Hamas Hezbollah and the Houthi rebels have conspired to increase the cost of energy and just about every other commodity the planet.

Yet they continue to disparage the US oil and gas industry.

White House Press Secretary Jean-Pierre said, “While congressional Republicans fight to preserve tax breaks for Big Oil at the expense of hardworking families, President Biden is advancing a more secure, affordable, and clean energy future to lower utility bills while record American energy production helps meet our immediate needs.”

The White House press secretary obviously has no experience understanding about the US oil and gas industry.

The so-called tax breaks that the press secretary is talking about are away for the U.S. oil and gas industry to produce more products and keep prices cheaper for the American people. When the Biden administration puts more burden on the US oil and gas industry that’s going to show up directly at the pump.

So while they keep telling us that they are trying to do wonderful things for hard-working Americans the reality is the opposite and if you don’t believe it just go fill up at the pump.

And at the same time policies of this administration have allowed revenue in places like Iran to hit a five-year high. The Administration has failed to enforce sanctions on Russian oil. We should also point out that the oil on our SPR went to other countries including our adversary, China. And while there’s no doubt that commodities have been at the beginning of a major supercycle and may have a long way to go, it’s clear that if the government continues to try to intervene in the free markets and try to pick winners and losers in this energy transition it’s only going to lead to even more inflation and higher prices in the future.

Today the petroleum markets are under pressure after the American Petroleum Institute (API) reported increases in crude and gasoline supply and hawkish Fed talk. Raising the inventories is raising concerns about a slowdown in demand and the possibility of stagflation as other commodities like grains and metals rise.

The API reported that crude stocks increased 2.48 million barrels while gasoline inventories increased by 2.1 million barrels. Distillates fell by 320,000 barrels as Farmers made a lot of progress in the fields. Farm Progress reported that USDA’s latest crop progress report, on Monday showed corn plantings still a bit behind the prior five-year average but has mostly caught up as more farmers have been able to jump back into spring fieldwork over the past several days. Soybean plantings passed the halfway mark, meantime, and are still modestly ahead of the prior five-year average. Winter wheat quality ratings unexpectedly shifted a point lower. Increasing inventories are raising concerns about slowing global demand. And that could be a sign of stagflation. Fed Speakers had to be hawkish as inflation continues to be a problem.

Barrons reported that Fed Governor Waller said he needs to see “several more” months of good inflation figures to begin interest rate cuts. Atlanta Fed President Bostic reiterated his view that inflation will continue to decline slowly and that the Fed can likely begin cutting interest rates in the fourth quarter.

Today could be a turning point for oil after all the negativities. If the market can get a more bullish report from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) today, we could be close to the bottom technically.

Keep an eye on demand to band for gasoline and products. It’s been subpar we do expect a bounce and we do expect to see a low coming into the prices very shortly. We don’t think the upside risk has gone away and we think there’s more upside than downside at these price levels.

Natural gas's incredible moves seem to be taking a pause after the market had one of the best upward moves in 2 years. The recovery has been led by increased demand for one of the cheapest hydrocarbons on the planet. LNG exports resumed and the science of production was leveling out storage levels are still at historically high levels. We are going to pull back here at a little bit to see if the air conditioning demand starts to increase demand. Power outages and demand destructions and parts of the country due to storms have also hurt demand.

Naureen S. Malik at Bloomberg wrote that “Windows are still falling from skyscrapers in downtown Houston after a historic windstorm whipped through the city last week. And days after the disaster, more than 140,000 customers in the area remained without power. Most of those homes and businesses are served by CenterPoint Energy Inc (NYSE:CNP). The utility operates the most stressed local power grid in the country. Malik says “What happened in Houston is emblematic of widespread issues across the country. As the US grid is tested by extreme weather and increasing demand, aging infrastructure is giving way to higher counts of grid faults.

The problem is one of poor power- quality, or when the flow of electricity powering lights and appliances is being delivered at an uneven or unpredictable pace, which can lead to dangerous surges, sags, brownouts, and outages.”  Maybe they could put that is an electric car ad.

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