Energy prices were weak on Wednesday, the entire complex tanked on the combination of mild weather forecasts and another bearish report from the DOE. As far as today’s EIA report for underground gas storage goes, the crowd is expecting anywhere from a 5 Bcf injection to a 20 Bcf delivery. The five-year average is a 62 Bcf delivery.
Downstream capacity along the Atlantic Coast (PADD I) is fast becoming a ghost town. Total refinery throughput in the U.S. fell by 0.7% last week to 14.08 MMbbl/d. This decline accrued in the wake of Valero’s November 20th announcement to shutter its Delaware City facility. As such, the bulk of the pullback occurred in the East where week-on-week runs plunged by 13.9% to an eight-month low of 1.06 MMbbl/d.
What’s more, imports of crude oil have dropped in accord with recent shut-ins (indefinite and permanent) to East Coast capacity.
To put that into perspective, the current four-week average is one of the lowest rates since 1990 (as far back as the DOE provides weekly data). Imports are now on par to what we saw last April. In fact, outside of last spring, the only other time we have seen imports this low occurred back in the fourth quarter 1990 to first quarter 1991, i.e. in the buildup to oust Saddam from Kuwait.