Markets

Oil Price Still Rising to $53

Oil Price Still Rising to $53

Harvey is hitting in a transformed energy landscape: Previous storms that disrupted operations at the offshore platforms in the Gulf of Mexico caused oil prices to spike.

The prospect of supply interruptions sent gasoline futures to $1.74 a gallon, their highest level since April, before retreating to around $1.67 by Friday afternoon.

Exports of oil and condensates would also be affected as NuStar Energy and Magellan Midstream Partners were also shutting down their Corpus Christi terminals ahead of Harvey. Gasoline futures rose 1.5 cents, or 0.9% to $1.6791 a gallon.

Oil's move higher reverses some of Thursday's 2% loss, which was driven by concerns that refiners in the storm's path would halt operations and stop churning as much crude into fuel.

"For the next few days, the US market is going to be focused on Texas as the tropical depression Harvey is expected to strengthen into a Category I hurricane by Friday", said Sukrit Vijayakar, director of energy consultancy Trifecta in a note. Almost 850 of the canceled flights were scheduled to either depart from or land at Houston's two airports.

How much prices go up will really depend on "storm assessments and damage-major damage from flooding would be critical", he said.

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Companies have been evacuating workers from oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, and that is crimping the flow of oil and gas. "This gradual shift has been in play through the development of several factors, including the gradual dominance of shale oil in the USA, continual increase of importance of Chinese oil refineries in Asia, decreasing domestic crude oil output China, increasing strategic reserves volumes by the Chinese government and a gradual increase in domestic Chinese consumption".

On August 24, 2017, U.S. crude oil futures' implied volatility was 26.6%-0.7% below its 15-day rolling average. Plants in the Corpus Christi area have started to shut down in anticipation of the storm.

The next step would be for Pemex to "turn to their suppliers in the Caribbean, U.S. West Coast and Europe, and I would imagine any suppliers in the U.S. Midwest and East Coast", Alonso said in a telephone interview.

Airlines were offering customers the chance to reschedule trips that would take them to Houston, San Antonio or Austin from Friday through the weekend.

Overnight, crude futures settled lower on Thursday, as Hurricane Harvey looks set to hit the refinery hub of the US, stoking fears of an uptick in crude supplies as refineries are expected to shut down operations.


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