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Tropical Storm Hermine could impact oil, gasoline inventories

I'm hearing that the government is set to expand, possibly greatly, the number of wells shut-in in Oklahoma, beyond the initial 30 wastewater disposal wells. Oil prices will see significant support, if that occurs. Given the attention it's getting and some of the "I-told-you-so" talk from the Feds, especially, it's a real possibility.

Gulf of Mexico rigs were getting re-populated on Friday, and full production will likely be restored no later than Tuesday (12 percent of oil and 9 percent of gas was shut-in as of 11 a.m. Friday, which was the final update for this storm.)

Tropical Storm Hermine gets interesting now for the East Coast refiners, for crude oil imports into the region, and for refined product exports, which have increased markedly over the past year. As of late Sunday, Hermine, which made landfall in Florida on Friday, was sitting off the east coast, with a possibility the storm could regain hurricane strength.

The refiners themselves are built to withstand Category-3 storms, but operations can still be affected by local power outages and the inability to get personnel in and out of the facilities.

Traffic drives along US 98 as Hurricane Hermine approaches on September 1, 2016 in Eastpoint, Florida.
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Traffic drives along US 98 as Hurricane Hermine approaches on September 1, 2016 in Eastpoint, Florida.

Shipping interests typically avoid the storms, and if Hermine lingers, as she is forecast to do, inventories of crude oil would be drawn down, despite continuing oil-by-rail volumes. Meanwhile, gasoline inventories will rise, possibly significantly.

Gasoline demand appears to have taken a big hit, anyway, from the storm, due to canceled travel plans, but the inability to export via vessel will really take a toll. It's just what refiners do not need right now, as they work to clear summer-grade gasoline ahead of the October 1 shift to winter grade fuel.

This storm is not like some of the other big ones such as Sandy, where we saw actual gasoline shortages develop, but it could amount to something significant, if it lingers. We will have to watch to see what effect it has on the supply chain.

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