By Elizabeth Bassett from Plattz February 2015
According to Platts, February in the US is the traditional time to hoist groundhogs before the public to determine whether winter is coming to a close or will continue in a seemingly endless slog. It’s also a time to remember the existential crisis of Phil in the movie “Groundhog Day” and wonder if you’re actually stuck in one place for eternity.
In the global world of oil, some issues keep rearing their heads, like a Sonny and Cher song on a clock radio. But in the February edition of The Oil Big Five, Platts features many new topics culled from its oil editors and analysts worldwide, who shared the top items they’re keeping an eye on in the oil industry.
1. King Salman
The death of a Saudi king is the kind of thing that could once have sent major price ripples through global oil markets, as one Platts oil editor pointed out recently. But the death of King Abdullah and succession by his half-brother Salman instead produced more modest changes in the market.
2. VLCC storage of crude in Asia and Europe
Very large crude carriers, used to ship crude and fuel oil, are in high demand these days, both to move product and to act as makeshift storage.
3. China’s oil product prices
If regulations were removed, it would remain to be seen how Chinese oil majors would move in the market, if underused independent refining capacity could help meet demand, if restrictions would be loosened on crude imports and product exports, and what new benchmark prices could influence prices.
4. The secondary market of line space in the US
New production and increased refining capacity mean nothing without a way to move products to markets. Colonial Pipeline in particular is a textbook example of the demand on infrastructure and emerging secondary markets for the ability to move product.
5. Marine gas oil markets
The beginning of the year brought new sulfur emission regulations, and the effects of tightened standards are still being felt in markets, particularly in Europe