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Energy View: Tuesday October 2

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Energy markets appear to be taking a breather this morning as oil was up sharply yesterday on strengthening sentiment that U.S. trade sanctions on Iran will deplete global oil stocks in the absence of any indication by OPEC that it will be able to compensate for lost barrels. As a consequence, Dated Brent oil picked up $2.28 a barrel to end the day at $84.98, while WTI scored an impressive $2.05 a barrel gain to hold at $75.30. Refined products too were carried by the momentum allowing gasoline to rise nearly 4 cents a gallon while diesel managed an advantage of nearly a nickel. At $2.41 a gallon, diesel is now approaching market prices not seen since November 12, 2014, while oil is testing values that go back to November 26 of that same year.

Nevertheless, with fresh news that OPEC failed to increase oil output in September to compensate for decreasing Iranian sales and output, only the return of production by Libya allowed the cartel to register a paltry 70,000 barrel a day net increase. Understandably, traders are weighing prospects of tightening global supplies of crude for the next five weeks and extending their bullish bets, especially on Brent crude.

The effects of oil’s overall lift of $5 to $7 a barrel for WTI and Brent respectively over the past couple of weeks, is finally making its presence felt at the pumps with average gas prices across the country sitting this morning at $2.888 a gallon according to the GasBuddy Live Ticking Average. That puts median prices across the nation 2 cents a gallon above what was paid last week, 6 cents higher than last month and 36 cents a gallon more than what drivers paid this same day last year. For its part, diesel is now 49 cents a gallon higher than last year and at $3.22, reaching values not seen since Christmas day 2014.

The day ahead will have analysts and traders considering the positive effects of a renewed trade deal with Canada and Mexico, the renamed USMCA (United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement) and the Trump Administrations focus now on U.S. China trade, all the while, considering the evidence of tightening global crude supplies. While the consensus is for tomorrow’s Department of Energy Weekly Petroleum Status Report to reflect a growing number of refineries entering autumn turnarounds, surprises in oil and petroleum products inventories are always possible and this afternoon’s API guesstimate is likely to signal how a lackluster trading day will end.

Senior Petroleum Analyst, Canada

Dan is a skilled and noted bilingual (French and English) consumer advocate specializing in energy and current affairs. Known as Canada's “Gas Guru,” he founded tomorrowsgaspricetoday.com to better help motorists anticipate the price of gasoline in advance across Canada. He has over three decades of experience in the petroleum industry, as a parliamentarian and an analyst.