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Author Topic: Money  (Read 28443 times)

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Crude Oil WTI Futures Go Bananas, Briefly Spike to $130: And this Is What’s Happening at my Gas Station

Speculators are reacting to other speculators who are reacting to whatever.

by Wolf Richter • Mar 6, 2022 • 247 Comments


The reason the price spiked isn’t because the US is suddenly running out of crude oil or anything, but because 🐍 traders and algos smelled an opportunity and jumped on it, and drove up the price of those futures, and it’s pure speculation, but that’s what futures trading always is.

The US doesn’t import much Russian crude and could do just fine without Russian crude – and that’s why the import ban is even proposed. And if some buyers in the US actually buy Russian crude, it’s simply another trade, like a gazillion others, but Russian crude is a big part of the gigantic complex global oil trade.

For example, California is cut off from other US producing regions because there’s no pipeline across the Rockies. It produces some of its own crude oil and imports some crude oil from Alaska, and imports crude from the rest of the world. The local refineries, such as those in the Bay Area, buy this imported crude and refine it and export large quantities of gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel to Latin America, which is a  huge profitable business.

Those exports of gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel also go to Mexico, which in turn sells a large amount of crude oil to the US. This is all part of the vast and complex global oil trade. Everyone’s doing it, and it is now getting thrown into chaos.

So far, Russian crude oil exports have been very carefully exempted from the sanctions, but there is such chaos around blocked payment systems and shipping involving Russia that buyers are reluctant to buy physical Russian crude and ship owners are reluctant to transport it. And futures traders are jumping all over this.

Now, the “76” tourist-trap gas station here in my neighborhood in San Francisco – the brand “76” is owned by Phillips 66 – doesn’t sell crude oil, and it doesn’t sell futures either. It sells physical gasoline that has been in its tanks for some time. That gasoline came from the Phillips 66 refinery in the Bay Area, which took delivery of the crude oil well before then at prices that were set even before then – when prices were a lot lower.

Nevertheless, even as the cost of the gasoline in the tanks hasn’t changed, the price has been surging. And the difference is just extra profit.

Full article: 👀

🦖 jessy james Mar 7, 2022 at 11:35 pm
What most consumers of regular unleaded seem to be clueless about is those underground storage tanks at every tourist trap fill in station MUST be refilled, at minimum, every other day. Those tanks can hold at most 12,000 gallons. Do the math, if you doubt my statement.

Gelbert > 🦖 jessy james Mar 8, 2022 at 1:05 pm

The only math that is applicable here is, as Wolf said in so many words, price gouging.

The hydrocarbon industry has a pet “economics math” sounding phrase they are very fond of: “Fuel prices are INELASTIC when the price of oil goes down and ELASTIC when the oil prices go up.” (wink – nod). That fuel price setting modus operandi is a disingenuous excuse to price gouge on the way up and not lose a penny of profit on the way down.

Another part of math that Wolf has done, and the  petroleum industry doesn’t want you do do, is the oil futures price relation to physical supplies of crude oil and fuels at the pump. There is no excuse whatsoever for raising the price of fuels based on zooming up price futures contracts frenzy, yet they do that with glee.

Check out how much crude oil is stored at any refinery at any time. You will find that it is, at the very least, a month of pre-refined crude. Often it is much more than that because they have a large tank farm on the grounds.

You cannot take a load of crude off of a tanker and start refining it right away. This is because several steps (e.g. stripping the crude oil of excess oxygen), required to prepare the crude for refining, take a significant amount of time. The actual process of refining takes place in the cracking towers. The “crude” that goes into the cracking towers is quite a bit more pure than the crude that arrives at the refinery.

So, ANY actual increase in crude oil price should certainly not be reflected at any refinery for at least a month.

The new gasoline and diesel and heating oil coming out of the higher priced crude should not see a gas station tank or a heating oil truck tank for at least 6 weeks. Yet, they pull the old “ELASTIC” price (gouging) on the way up TRICK, with a straight face, every single time.

No wonder the oil majors are up around 5% today (i.e. March 8, 2022); they are in price gouging heaven and we-the-people are getting the “elastic” shaft.

Kresten Mar 7, 2022 at 6:09 pm
In Denmark, gas just passed $10/gallon. That’s something like +$20/100mi. Thank god for EVs: charge them at night for $0.20/Wh or ~$6/100mi.

Gelbert > Kresten Mar 8, 2022 at 12:20 pm
Well said. I hope this pushes more people towards ⚡ EVs🌞 and away from 🦖 gas guzzling ☠️ pollution mobiles.
He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Matt 10:37


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