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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Expect no big price changes this week
Contentious gasoline season starts

Media release

Conception Bay South, NL, March 25, 2008 – “Don’t expect to see any large changes to petroleum pricing this week in spite of the drop in crude oil pricing”, that’s from George Murphy of the Consumer Group for Fair Gas Prices.

“Five out of seven days show a slight decrease of 2/10ths of a cent for heating and stove oils, while gasoline shows only a 2/10ths of a cent increase in pricing over twelve days. Remember that heating-stove oils faced interruption last week and that’s why those numbers are for five days of data.

“While oil traded lower on some disturbing economic news, oil’s related commodities still traded at near record levels. Pricing for heating, stove oils and gasoline all remained high with only slight fluctuations through the last week. Refiner capacity dropped back to a low of below 84% which is a sign that refiners have turned attention to shutdowns for maintenance and the switch to gasoline. Capacity has been measured as being very low in spite of the consumer need for refined product this last winter and it’s almost as if there was a ‘purpose’ to keeping refining ability low.

“It appears that heating-stove oils are starting to lose their focus in the markets as numbers started dropping on the New York Mercantile Exchange this week but, unfortunately, I don’t think it has been enough to start to warrant a significant drop in distillates. More substantive drops in heating-stove oils should be realized over the next couple of weeks. If I were a heating-stove oil user, I would rein back on my purchases and just purchase what is absolutely necessary to get by. What is more important in this equation is that we now have to see a substantive drop back in heating-stove oil numbers over the next few months in order to avoid problems like we continue to see today; traders taking advantage of the fact that they were trading on a necessity and not on gasoline which can be less so.

“Next year, government should develop home retrofit programs as well as offer assistance to consumers who may need the help in switching to different heating sources. Conversion to electricity may be more practical and affordable for some in the long term if heating-stove oils continue to be over-priced to consumers.

“Numbers for gasoline are starting to gain more focus in the markets as of the start of this week and it is a sure sign that traders and investors are losing interest in heating-stove oils as a place to make a buck. They’ve hit a brick wall called ‘spring’. All eyes will be on gasoline as numbers for that fuel are already trading very high for this time of year. If people are a little more conservative in their purchases, they may just be able to help keep a handle on pricing of gasoline for the summer in spite of traders actions. Otherwise, we may see a scenario like we just left with heating oil in the dying weeks of winter. A boost in refiner capacity along with a building of gasoline inventories ahead of the summer driving season may be the consumers only hope.”


For more information, contact;

George Murphy
Group researcher/Member
Consumer Group for Fair Gas Prices

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Heating-stove oils face upwards price interruption
No changes coming to gasoline

Media release

Conception Bay South, NL, March 18, 2008- Consumers of heating-stove oils and possibly diesel fuels will see an upwards spike in prices tomorrow night as numbers for those petroleum products have increased radically this past week. That means that the Petroleum Pricing Office will use its interrupter formula to increase those prices.

“Numbers we have for the first five days of this pricing session are indicative of where we’ll see heating-stove oils head this week. Numbers are showing an allowable of 7.1 cents a litre upwards over those first five days and numbers from the New York Mercantile Exchange continue to trade above the four cent allowable for interruption to occur for Monday and Tuesday. While those two days traded down, we’re still in interrupter territory. The actual increase at the end of the day will be greater than five cents a litre,” said George Murphy.

“Gasoline remains unaffected as those numbers have not seen the huge spikes in pricing on the markets like the distillate group of fuels that includes heating, stove, and jet fuels. That’s probably part reason why we saw some of the major airlines increase fuel surcharges the last few days, Air Canada being another to do it just this week.

“The markets remain volatile with investors forcing upwards the prices for related commodities even though we’re at the end of the heating season. We have record spot pricing for heating oil that ranges in the $3.20 a US gallon mark, a price not seen in the history of trading.

“It is simply unknown why investors and traders continue to invest heavily in a ‘winter’ product. We all know that people can no longer afford to pay in excess of a buck a litre for heating oil product but they soon will be paying that in the immediate St. John’s and Mt. Pearl areas. Two weeks ago, I wouldn’t have believed it to be possible. Traders and investors on the MYMEX are showing how irresponsible they are when they invest out of simple ‘desperation”. They have nothing else they can find to make money on in the face of a falling US dollar? The last thing I’d be investing in at this time where there is heavy talk of a recession is any kind of energy based on crude oil.

“Either way you look at it, Big Oil is not going to move any more product with prices moving up. What they have done is drive up the price to a level where heating oils as well as stove oils, are no longer affordable and they have successfully provided their own means of building inventory. People can no longer afford and therefore, cannot buy in the same quantity.”


For more information, contact;

George Murphy
Group researcher/Member
Consumer Group for Fair Gas Prices

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

New data still shows increases to heating and stove oils
Gasoline to drop...
I have some new data to share with you all in the province...Follows from yesterdays post.
New numbers here are still showing an increase coming to heating oil prices as well as those for stove oils, this time for twelve days show an allowable of 1.86 cents per litre. That could mean a possible high selling price of 98.02 cents per litre for heating-stove oils in this area!
Initial projections at the start of the fall season showed numbers anywhere between 85 and 95 cents with a buck a litre possible...
Gasoline shows downwards at 1.9 cents in spite of the record trading price for crude oil. I think that what this shows is that this commodity has been stretched to its limit when it comes to being a toll worthy of investment rather than the US greenback. I think that what we see is the law of diminishing returns kicking in here-you can raise the price but you will still sell less product to make the same revenues...
As a sidenote?...
Nice to see M.J Ervin revise the summer forecast for gasoline pricing but his numbers are still a little too high. He's forecasting summertime prices of $1.20 a litre in the metro areas-I presume he's talking Toronto- with possible spikes of $1.50 in more rural areas.
I feel like we're all caught in a "bid-ask" scenario at times with the Calgary company part of the "ask"
My models are still showing anywhere between $1.22 and $1.37 a litre for gas in the immediate St.John's area and with my most recent model showing $1.28 a litre at peak.That means that Toronto and it's environs could see anywhere around what they are experiencing right now, around the $1.08 figure...
Keep in mind that this does not include panic scenarios to the markets like-you heard from me first-"Hurricane Syndrome". Otherwise, that could mean spikes to newfound territory in pricing again.
I'm still taking bets that investors are soon going to realise that they can't drive up the price of commodities anymore than what they fel the consumer is willing to pay and that's why, when you mix recesion into the equation, that we'll soon see a "profit-taking selloff" in crude oil.
Hold off on buying any more heating oils for now, if you can do it. My bets are that this is the last of the increases and we'll soon be witness to a slide in heating-stove oil spot pricing.
Any comments, drop me a note or leave one here...
George Murphy
Consumer Group for Fair Gas Prices
What's wrong with oil?
I was asked the other day what it is about oil that has attracted so many to invest in it rather than sink money into other things that one would consider "recession-proof".
Present investment in oil is a little disheartening to see to the average consumer but to play folly with my investment plan and put that money to risk on oil instead of other solid things, is a little suicidal in my belief. That's part of the problem that I have with the latest run-up in crude oil pricing for which the US dollar has taken the back seat...
I don't understand how simple rules of economics can be ignored and money invested in a product that will see some sort of decline in usage if the recession talk comes to fruition. If we are indeed, heading towards recession, jobs and energy usage are the first to feel the blow of any slowdown in economic activity. Then why is there such heavy investment in oil?
I've heard every excuse in the book as to the reasons why you and me are going to pay at the pumps for investors folly but, is that any reason to become a spark that will aid in causing a recession at the same time? When will the spark come that will "start" the slowdown on demand and cause pricing to slip again? If there is recession then high prices for crude oil and their related commodities will surely be the reason for it. That, and George Bush's entry into Iraq... 17 billion in the war now, and counting.Is there any other reason for it?
By the way...
I still have only eight days data out of a possible fourteen that still shows a slight drop in gasoline pricing (2.3 a litre) and a slight increase in heating-stove oil numbers (1.5 a litre). Both modest numbers on already high prices should also be a warning for the oil investor out there: you're already starting to deal with the laws of diminishing returns.
I'm betting my money on the inevitable decline in crude in the next few months if the trend of recession continues. I would suggest to you people who have unknowingly invested in oil through your pension palns to get in touch and ask questions about your investors "investment"...It is, after all, your money...

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Possible downwards interruption in pricing?


You read it right...

Seems that the first two days of this pricing session are pointing down and that means that, if it keeps up for the next couple of days, there is a liklihood that we'll see a drop downwards in gasoline and heating oil pricing...

Numbers on gasoline for the first two days show almost 4.7 cents a litre down waith taxes in while heating and stove oils are perilously close to the four cents needed to see them drop as early as this coming Thursday.

Stay tuned as I'll have more this coming Tuesday.In the meantime, try to buy as little as is needed.

George Murphy