Feb 10, 2021 11:03 AM

News From the Oil Patch: Crude holds at yearlong highs, other stats lag

Posted Feb 10, 2021 11:03 AM

By JOHN P. TRETBAR

Kansas Common crude at CHS in McPherson starts the week at $47 per barrel after gaining another half dollar on Friday. That's up more than three dollars a barrel on the week and the best price in McPherson since January 22 of last year. U.S. crude futures prices topped $57 a barrel, while the international benchmark London Brent rose above $60 per barrel.

The national average price for a gallon of gasoline had been cheaper year-over-year for more than 340 consecutive days. But AAA says that trend is likely to end soon. The auto club said regular gas is going for $2.27 a gallon in Great Bend. We spotted it as low as $2.24 a gallon at several locations in Hays. Your 15-gallon fill-up will cost you three dollars more than a month ago, but about three dollars less than last year at this time. Mississippi boasts the cheapest gasoline in the country, with an average price of just over $2.12 per gallon. California and Hawaii were the most expensive at $3.34 per gallon. The average across Kansas was just over $2.21.  

Operators in Kansas filed 79 intent-to-drill notices across the state last month. The Kansas Corporation Commission reported one each in Barton, Ellis, Russell and Stafford counties. Operators last year filed just 560, continuing a four-year stretch of declining intent notices.

Independent Oil & Gas Service says the rig count in eastern Kansas was down one at seven active rigs, while the count west of Wichita was unchanged at eight. They're about to spud one new well in Stafford County.

Baker Hughes says the national Rotary Rig Count through Friday was 392 active rigs, an increase of four oil and four gas rigs. The count in Texas was up seven rigs.  Canada was down three at 171 active rigs.

Regulators okayed 13 new drilling permits in Kansas last week, 13 of them east of Wichita and six in Western Kansas, including one new permit in Ellis County. Independent Oil & Gas Service reports eight newly-completed wells across the state, all of them in eastern Kansas.

The Energy Information Administration reported U.S. crude-oil inventories dropped by one million barrels to just under 476 million barrels last week, but remain about four percent above the five-year average for this time of year.

The government says U.S. crude-oil production dropped by a thousand barrels a day and remained below 11 million barrels per day for the second straight week. EIA said imports increased by nearly one and a half million barrels last week, to 6.5 million barrels per day. Four-week average average imports are down 9.2% from the same period last year.

The Association of American Railroads reports rail shipments of petroleum & petroleum products in January were down 6,529 carloads or 12.1 percent from the year before. Total rail traffic last month was up more than five percent. Oil-by-rail totals for the week ending January 30 were down more than 14% year over year. There were 11,291 tanker cars rolling the rails last week hauling petroleum products, down more than 12-hundred cars from the week before.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc snapped up its biggest purchases of North Sea oil in over a decade, underpinning signs of sharply tightening supplies. Europe’s biggest oil company bought five cargoes last Monday (2/1) and made a further seven bids that didn’t find sellers, according to reporting by Bloomberg.

American oil exports from Louisiana’s offshore supertanker port jumped to a record in January as Asian buyers are stocking up on U.S. crude for what they see as a post-pandemic rebound in fuel consumption. Eight vessels set sail last month from the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, the nation’s only facility that can fully load supertankers. Bloomberg reports they're carrying nearly 15 million barrels of crude to South Korea, China and India. That’s double the previous month’s volume and an all-time high for LOOP, as the terminal is known.

The Biden Administration went to court last week in an attempt to seize two million barrels of oil that it claims came from Iran. Court filings accuse the Islamic republic of using ship-to-ship transfers to disguise the origin of the oil on board a Greek-owned tanker, and provided a false bill of lading to deceive the owners of the tanker. The owner alerted U.S. authorities to the possibility that it had unknowingly taken on Iranian crude, after initially thinking it came from Iraq, according to reporting by Bloomberg last month. Washington ordered the ship to sail to the U.S.

Canceling the Keystone Pipeline expansion could also wind up costing us money. The Premier of Alberta Province in Canada believes he has a good claim for damages under provisions still in place under the NAFTA treaty. The province spent $1.2 BILLION to help jump start construction, and Premier Jason Kenney says President Biden removed the regulatory approvals that were the basis of that investment. Kenney says his claim for damages is, in his words, a slam dunk.