Stephen Schork is the Founder and Editor of The Schork Report, a daily subscription newsletter providing comprehensive technical and fundamental daily views of the energy cash and financial markets. Published since April 2005, The Schork Report is geared towards professionals in the global energy arena looking to improve economic performance while managing risk. Further information is available at www.EnergyMarketIntelligence.com.
Schork was a floor trader (Local) in the New York Mercantile Exchange’s energy complex and has more than 18 years experience in physical commodity and derivatives trading, risk systems modeling and structured commodity finance.
A recognized expert in the energy sector, Schork is a regular guest on CNBC and Bloomberg Television. He is also frequently quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Reuters, the Associated Press, Platts, The Street.com and CNNMoney.com.
According to the American Petroleum Institute (API), domestic oil and gas production activity rose by 38 percent in the second quarter from a year ago. The API estimates that 10,358 oil wells, natural gas wells and dry holes were completed in the second quarter of 2010. These results are in stark contrast to the 22 percent year-on-year decline posted in the first quarter and therefore poke holes in the assumption producers of natural gas are ready, willing and (financially) able to rein in output.
Heading into yesterday’s session spot NYMEX crude oil for August delivery had yo-yoed in between a 79.38 high and a 71.09 low. Yesterday the contract peaked at 76.43 and troughed at 74.52 before settling at 74.95. Suffice it to say, $75 does indeed appear to be a magnet.
If ever there were a time for natural gas to rally, you would think it would be now. Gas-fired cooling demand in key market areas has been surging since May; a circumstance that looks to remain through at least the end of July.
Back in the June 16th Schork Report we talked about the peculiar action transpiring in the Nymex Henry Hub back spreads. For instance, in between May 06th and June 15th, the backwardation for the key cross-seasonal March 2011/April 2011 spread spiked by 204%. Recall, this was the purported trade that drove a $9 billion hedge fund (Amaranth) into extinction.
In light of the current heat wave that is roasting much of the U.S., cooling demand this season is already drawing comparisons to 2002. For that season, June to August, the average temperature for the contiguous United States was the warmest since the 1930s.
Yesterday the French oil giant Total SA, announced it has suspended selling refined oil products to Iran. The decision by the company was in response to the approval last week by the US Congress to level sanctions against foreign companies that trade with Iran. This is important, according to the latest estimates from the EIA, Iran’s refining capacity is around 1.5 MMbbl/d, but its domestic consumption is closer to 1.7 MMbbl/d.