We are three quarters of the way through another week and, once again, Mother Nature has brought spring's work to a halt.

The bright side is it's not snow!

When I checked my radar this morning, it was blue all the way from Rapid City to the Missouri. As it crossed the river, it started turning to rain. Hopefully this weekend will allow some wheels to turn.

Another week of geopolitical rhetoric controlling the markets. Everything from US sanctions, Lybia’s oil fields being under attack, a political coup going on in Venezuela, to Russia pumping bad oil to President Trumps twitter machine. The one item that seems to have faded into the background is the US - China trade talks. The only news I heard on that was last Friday and the possibility of a US waiver for Iranian oil being part of the talks. Of course, this type of news is driving the markets from 5-6 cents up and 5-6 cents back down, plus a little, in less than a week. Marketing fuel for our producers has been a real joy lately!

A couple of items that bear watching are OPEC+ and where they are on current production cuts and the bad oil that was sent down the line in Russia. OPEC claims they have enough support to vote to continue the cuts till the end of 2019 at their June meeting, with the exception of covering Iran and Venezuela if necessary.

Last week it was discovered that oil tainted with chlorine was flowing down Russia’s Druzhba pipeline, which is a 1 mmb/day line. The chlorine is used to make the crude flow easier out of the ground but is then removed before being sent down the pipe. If this chlorine gets to a refinery, which it did, it wreaks havoc on it. Original reports claimed it would be cleaned and reopened in short order. Fresh news out this morning from Russia claims that the tainting was intentional, but no blame as of yet. They also state that the 35 mmb in the line needs to be pumped onto rail cars, shipped back, and run through whatever process removes the chlorine to reship it…meaning the pipeline may be down for up to two months.

One other item of interest…the Baker Hughs report from last week reported another 20 rigs shut down. Now when you take into account the numerous items I’ve mentioned; the EIA reported this week a 10 mmb increase in inventory! Some of this could possibly be attributed to the exprort/import ratio or the slightly lower refinery run, but something just doesn’t seem right. Of course, this is driving the price of crude down, and products may or may not follow along. Wednesday, they stayed to the positive side while crude was down. Thursday, all three were down but a slight rally was made before close to bring everything off their lows. This is one of those times that when one or two products react in a certain fashion, it doesn’t necessarily mean all will react the same.
Thanks for your patronage and have a safe and productive planting season!!

Brian Beck
Energy Department Manager/Safety Coordinator
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