Hurricane Sandy may inflict a negative hit to demand for crude oil and fuel products as production at U.S. East Coast refineries comes to a standstill, reducing demand for the primary input.
Meanwhile, diesel and gasoline consumption by businesses and households could also be cut sharply after New York and other large cities are shut down by the storm, reducing economic activity. Power outages lasting as long as ten days may reduce demand further.
The supply of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel into the U.S. East Coast ground almost to a halt on Monday as Hurricane Sandy forced the closure of two-thirds of the region’s refineries, its biggest pipeline, and most major ports, Reuters reported.
“If you think of it from the end-users’ standpoint, if they can’t process it then they’re going say, ‘I’m going to store it and use it later,'” CME floor trader Tres Knippa of Kenai Capital Management told CNBC’s ‘Closing Bell’ on Monday. “So if you don’t have the end-users using it, that means there’s more supply and, ergo, crude going down. However, as we move into the election I am not interested being short crude at these levels.”
Brent December crude dipped 11 cents to settle at $109.44 a barrel, having reached $110.26. Brent was on pace to post a more than 2 percent loss for the month, a second straight monthly loss.
U.S. December crude fell 74 cents to settle at $85.54 a barrel. Monday’s $84.66 intraday low was the lowest price since July. U.S. crude futures were on track to end October down more than 7 percent, after sliding more than 4 percent in September.
Still, at this juncture traders appear divided over the direction crude and product markets will take in the wake of the worst weather event to hit New York City since at least 1938.
Fuel product futures initially jumped reflecting fears that power outages and flooding could leave refiners struggling to restore operations while reports of pipeline, port and terminal operations either shuttered or reduced raised concerns of supply bottlenecks.
Colonial Pipeline said on Monday it is proceeding with its plans to shut Line 3, which runs from North Carolina to New Jersey, at 7 p.m. Monday night ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Sandy.
Via – CNBC