Around The Barrel – Oil Futures Volatility Increases After Storage, Iran & Russian Tensions

The crude oil complex continues to sell off with WTI at 68.74 -2.92 -4.07% after settling down $4 or -5.29% at $71.66 heading into API & EIA storage reports. US crude oil inventories fell -1.281Mbbls last week the EIA reported. Gasoline +1.742Mbbls inventories rose where seasonal stocks are now the lowest since 2014. Refinery Utilization fell -0.60%. US Crude Oil Inventories SPR fell another -2.0Mbbls, the lowest since Oct 1983. Cushing OK Crude storage added +541Kbbls. Concerns about a global recession fueled by EU manufacturing PMI readings for April that were weaker than March and the US JOLTs Report for March showing Job opening falling to a two-year low are hitting prices.

Further the US regional banking disaster has filtered through to commodities such as oil, copper and natural gas. Last Week WTI futures fell -1.40% on the week, Brent was down 1.92%, heating oil was down 4.48% and gasoline down 3.09%. We have seen a dead cat bounce in WTI and Brent after they closed the gap up between $75.70 and $79 from when OPEC+ announced a surprise over 1.5 million barrel per day crude oil production cut.

Oil Outlook Messy

Sentiment has been improving with the headwinds from three major bank failures in the US and Credit Suisse falling. Concerns grow that more aggressive tightening from the Federal Reserve would dent economic growth and curb demand.

Around The Barrel Contents

Click on the links below to navigate to the relevant section.

  1. DOE & API Petroleum Storage Forecast Matrix
  2. Crude Oil Quick Summary
  3. Weekly DoE US Petroleum Storage Report Breakdown
  4. API Crude Inventories
  5. Cushing Oil Stocks
  6. Crude Imports
  7. Crude Exports
  8. Gasoline
  9. Rig Watch
  10. Crude Oil Production
  11. Weather
  12. WTI Crude Oil Futures Technical Analysis
  13. DCOT Report
  14. Option Volatility and Gamma
  15. Key EIA and CME Dates

The risks of global recession threaten the demand picture and with higher rates push the likelihood of a meaningful recession higher. In 2023 the market has in the background the obtuse geopolitical framework framed by Russia’s Ukraine invasion, Germany’s inept energy policy, and Iran and China pursuing aggressive directions.

The soaring US dollar had a significant impact on commodity futures which has since reversed with the USD back at 7-month lows. Through it all demand and supply issues are the underlying guide.

The Week Ahead

DOE Weekly Petroleum Status Report Forecast

  • via
  • Report Date 4/19/23
  • Release Time: Wednesday, April 26, 2023, at 10:30 A.M. (ET)


  • Crude EIA -1.281M Exp -1.300M Prior -4.581M API -3.939M
  • Cushing EIA +0.541M Exp +0.520M Prior -1.088M API +0.700M
  • Gasoline EIA +1.742M Exp -1.700M Prior +1.299M API +0.400M
  • Distillate EIA -1.190M Exp -0.500M Prior -0.355M API -1.000M
  • Refinery Utilization -0.60% to 90.7% Exp +0.3%
  • Production +100kbbls to 12,300kbpd (13.10 ATH)
  • SPR release -2000k (Lowest Since Oct 1983)
  • NB: Crude oil supply adjustment 4/21/4 rose 0.273mbpd w/w to 1.209mbpd – EIA
  • US petroleum inventories (crude, SPR, refined products) fell by 3.285mb last week (crude -1.281mb, SPR -2.004mb) – EIA

Note in bbls *exp = Reuters poll estimates adjusted for API shift, except Cushing

Stocks have been building rather stoically in 2023, specifically at the Cushing WTI futures Hub.

Energy Price Matrix

Energy Market Performance

Update: PADD 3 Refinery Utilization

US Crude Oil Quick Look

Oil prices continue to be subject to geopolitical bifurcation dynamics with sudden changes that accompanies the onset of chaos. The unexpected knock-ons continue with imperfect bifurcation with political influence and personal vagaries from world leaders such as Putin, Scholz and Biden in addition to routine crude dynamics.

via Ole S Hansen @Ole_S_Hansen

Final 2022 Inventory

  • Commercial crude oil inventories were up ~2.8m bbls
  • SPR inventories were down ~ 221.3m bbls
  • Gasoline inventories were down ~10.1m bbls
  • Distillates were down ~6.5m bbls
  • Jet Fuel inventories were down ~0.9m bbls
  • Propane was up ~14.5m bbls

Weekly DoE US Petroleum Storage Report Breakdown

Weekly Storage via DOE

with RonH Data ‏@Ronh and The Fundamental Angle ‏@BrynneKKelly

  Via RonH at Ron H Public Tableau Link

API Crude Oil Inventories

US petroleum (Crude, SPR, oil products) inventories in million barrels (EIA)

US petroleum inventories (crude, SPR, refined products) fell by 3.285mb last week (crude -1.281mb, SPR -2.004mb) – EIA

US total crude oil inventories (both commercial and the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) have fallen to a 36-year low, dropping below the previous bottom set in 2001 via Bloomberg

US SPR crude inventories – 1.0M w/w at 366.94 million barrels the lowest since Oct 1983

Cushing Oil Stocks

Cushing, OK is the hub for the most heavily traded US oil Futures contract – West Intermediate Crude – WTI so for that reason we pay special attention to the storage there.

Cushing Storage Tanks
Cushing Storage Tanks

API Cushing Stocks

API Cushing

Weekly Update via RonH Data ‏@Ronh999

Cushing OK Crude Oil Storage Stocks

Closer Look at Cushing with DigStic Data @DigStic

US Oil Import Export



US crude imports by origin in kbpd (incl. w/w changes)

  • Canada +199 to 3526
  • Mexico -22 to 706
  • Saudi Arabia -151 to 242
  • Colombia unchanged at 143
  • Iraq -74 to 148
  • Ecuador +21 to 57
  • Nigeria +110 to 214
  • Brazil -121 to 68
  • Libya -49 to 0


US exports of crude and refined products in mbpd (EIA) – Record High ~11.776 million b/d.
US crude exports rose to record 4.146mbpd in October – EIA

The Russia, India and China mix

Russia said they would cut production by 500kbbls in March just as Russia launched its heaviest bombardment on southern Ukraine since the start of the war, as officials warned Moscow’s major offensive had ‘definitely’ started. There is a clear use of oil as a weapon by Putin. India and China being Russia’s main customers are not filling the demand void. Not hard to join the dots.

EU’s sanctions on Russian refined products were implemented Feb. 5. The ban follows a similar price cap on crude shipments introduced last year. European countries have pushed to lower the crude price cap ($60) on Moscow even further, but the Biden administration said it was inclined to oppose the move. 

Futures have been ignoring large US builds and have chosen hope with China opening up rather than negative morose from China’s economic implosion and the Central Bank maelstrom. Europe has been addressing energy dependance on Russia since the Ukraine invasion. President Vladimir Putin said Russia would immediately stop oil supply to countries that support the G7 members price cap on exports of Russian oil.

Since the cap, if not before Russian exports have been redirected to India and China in particular. Russian crude exports into India rose by 260kbd m/m in December to a record 1.2mbd. January exports are on-track to nearly 1.3mbd of Russian crude. Russian Exports to China were 70kbd in December, down nearly 27%m/m. We have seen Malaysia increase exports well beyond its own output to China. In turn China has exported products such as distillates back to Europe.

US Gasoline Consumers

Input to Refineries


US consumers bought 362.0 million gallons of gasoline per day last week. That is -10.0 mil YoY.


US consumers spent $1,303.0 million dollars per day for gasoline last week. That is $-252.5 mil YoY.


US avg retail price for gasoline was $3.600 last week. That is -0.582 YoY.


Rig Watch

Baker Hughes Weekly North American Rigs Report

  • US Baker Hughes Rig Count 28-Apr: 755 (prev 753)
  • – Rotary Gas Rigs: 161 (prev 159)
  • – Rotary Oil Rigs: 591 (est 591; prev 591)

US Oil Rigs w/w changes by key shale basins

  • Permian +3 to 357
  • Eagle Ford -1 to 59
  • Williston -1 to 40
  • Cana Woodford -2 to 25
  • DJ Niobrara unchanged at 17
via @staunovo

US oil rigs and frac spread (Baker Hughes/Primary Vision)

US oil rigs and frac spread (Baker Hughes/Primary Vision)

Canada Rigs

  • Canada’s weekly rig count at 140 April 14, 2023
  • Canada averaged 140 active drilling rigs this week according to data from the Canadian Association of Energy Contractors. Of those rigs, 45% are drilling for natural gas, 41% are drilling for oil, 3% for other (helium, hydrogen, geothermal, lithium, or potash), and 11% are moving.
  • Drilling activity by province is 81% in Alberta, 17% in BC, 1% in Saskatchewan, and 1% elsewhere.
  • Precision Drilling holds the majority of the Canadian market share with 35%, Ensign Drilling with 22%, Savanna Drilling with 10%, Horizon Drilling with 7%, and Akita Drilling with 5%. View a full breakdown of Western Canada’s rig activity .
  • BOE Report

International oil rigs ex North America

International oil rigs ex North America +22 m/m to 725 in March via Baker Hughes

  • Saudi Arabia +6
  • Turkey +5
  • Mexico +4
  • UK +3
  • Algeria +3
  • Nigeria +2
  • Norway -2
  • Libya -4

US Oil Production

US crude production changed benchmark April 12, 2023: US oil production: This week’s domestic crude oil production estimate incorporates a re-benchmarking that increased estimated volumes by 105,000 barrels per day, which is about 0.9% of this week’s estimated production total.

US Oil Field Production +100kbpd to 12.30mbpd (New Benchmark adj)


“North Dakota’s Bakken shale field — once the largest and busiest American shale patch — is showing signs of age, threatening to hold back US oil production as the world thirsts for more crude. Mature wells that are producing more gas than expected are hurting crude output from the Bakken, the Energy Information Administration said… The deteriorating performance was a main reason the agency cut its estimate for 2024 US oil output to 12.65 million barrels a day from an earlier projection of 12.8 million… Even at the lowered estimate for next year, US output would still set a record, surpassing the 12.3 million barrels a day produced in 2019.”

February 7 – Bloomberg (Sheela Tobben)

OPEC Crude Oil Production

OPEC’s crude oil output fell 80k b/d last month according to Bloomberg. Biggest changes being a 110kbd reductions from Angola to 990kbd a 19-yr low, Iraq (-50kbd), KSA (-30kbd) and Nigeria (+80kbd).

via Ole Hansen/Bloomberg 4/4/23

Weather Watch

Gulf of Mexico

WTI Crude Oil Futures Technical Analysis

via KnovaWave @KnovaWave

US Crude Oil (WTI)

Daily: WTI Crude Oil still chopping after completing the correction in 3 waves, C at the breakup level broke out of its daily bull flag through tenkan, kijun and 50dma right to the bottom of the cloud such was the impulse. From there it has been held back & needs to break above those descending levels for higher. We are in a completive mode for bulls with this impulse, it’s a question of degree on the topside, use the Murrey math 240/60 grid. From there down in 3 waves, completing a C or IV? Support is previous lows and the bull flag. The bear case is the high was a complete 5.

Weekly: WTI crude Oil futures spat the key 61.8% last month with impulse, having plunged more than 30% off the June highs. It has however been stuck in its sphere of influence since other than a peek this week. WTI completed 3 waves and powered through the tenkan and 50wma, however they both failed to hold the retest. Risk support is the grid. Long term 61.8% target fueled the spit of a spit by ABC bull flag after rebalanced Chikou sated. Resistance Weekly Kijun, cloud and Murrey Math levels and previous breaks (off monthly). Bear case is Wave 5 complete.

The key is crowd behavior to help tell the story which in energy is often around geopolitics. A great example of why we watch ABC corrections and from here we get the energy from the break being balanced. This move that was powered by 50 dma Tenkan spit of a spit – hence the fractal energies reverberations.

These are special times, recall “After we regained the pattern 261.8% from the extreme (-$40) move. The climax of the larger acceleration lower after broke the weekly uptrend, a fractal of the sharp and all the way to all-time lows to negative pricing we have seen mirror replications.” Above we have Murrey Math time and price

What we broke…….

Crude Oil in the past quarter built a huge bull flag. We watch if the recent break was false, or we fail. Very clear pattern.

The focus remains 85.61-88.01 a region defined by the 2013 low, the 100% extension of the March decline and the 61.8.% retracement of the November advance. A break below opens up the objective 2020 yearly open and 2018 high at 75.35-76.87. This would become an area of interest for downside exhaustion and price inflection potentially. Initial weekly the 38.2% Fibonacci retracement of the June decline at 100.21. Broader bearish invalidation now lowered to the June high-week close / 61.8% retracement at 109.16-110

Crude Oil Futures Commitment of Traders

Latest ICE and CFTC Open Interest Data:

CTFC and ICE open interest:

Money managers increased their net-length in Brent crude oil futures and options by 34,754 contracts to 207,233 in the week ending April 25 via ICE

  • Long-only positions fell by 22,431
  • Short-only positions rose by 12,323
  • other reportables net-length fell by 21,865

Money managers reduced their net-length in WTI crude oil futures and options by 19,525 contracts to 192,916 in the week ending April 25 via CFTC

  • Long-only positions fell by 10,092
  • Short-only positions rose by 9,433
  • other reportables net-length rose by 2,085
April 11 2023

Chart: Crude net-positioning of non-commercial accounts (=managed money and other reportables) in barrels and in US dollars (Brent and WTI futures and options combined) latest value is March 21 2023

COT on Commodities

In energy week to April 18, fund buying of crude oil extended to a third week despite some emerging price weakness that accelerated last Wednesday. The total WTI and Brent long rose 21.9k lots to 454k lots with the bulk (93%) being driven by fresh longs. Longs that were left vulnerable to the correction that followed. Overall, it concluded a five-week roundtrip that saw 232k lots being sold as the banking crisis broke before OPEC+ production cuts helped attract a 213k lots of net buying via Ole S Hansen @Ole_S_Hansen

Money managers in commodities covering the week to April 18 when the BCOM rose 1.5%, saw net buying from managed money accounts across 24 of 28 major futures tracked in this, led by crude oil, natural gas, copper, platinum, soybeans and corn via Ole S Hansen @Ole_S_Hansen


via Ole S Hansen @Ole_S_Hansen


Understanding DCOT Reports

Read Understanding Commitments of Traders Reports – COT, TFF and DCOT  to help understand the disaggregated reports (DCOT) and how they break down the reportable open interest positions into four classifications:

1. Producer/Merchant/Processor/User 2. Swap Dealers 3. Managed Money 4. Other Reportables

Crude Oil Option Volatility Watch



NYMEX LO = Crude Oil Options First 3 Months (Live Link)


NYMEX LO & ICE North Sea Brent BRN Crude Oil Options (Live Link)



NYMEX LO NYMEX OB Options (Live Link)


Energy Earnings Highlights for Q4 2022

Key EIA and CME Dates for WTI Crude Oil

Key EIA and CME Dates For WTI Crude Oil

From The TradersCommunity US Research Desk