The San Jacinto monument towers in the distance above SemGroup's Houston Fuel Oil Terminal Co. complex on the Houston Ship Channel. The firm expects to wrap up a $185 million expansion of the facility in mid-2018 that will add a fifth dock, capable of handling Suezmax tankers, and 1.45 million barrels of additional storage. Thanks to growing exports, SemGroup reported 99% utilization of the asset in fourth-quarter 2017. (Source: SemGroup Corp.)
If ever there were a case for multiple scenario analysis, the last few months in energy markets would likely come close to the top. On base-case analysis alone, domestic and international energy agencies vary considerably in their forecasts of demand and especially supply, and so do major research houses. Add to that the thorny issue of OPEC policy, and the range of outcomes can differ widely.
A number of issues are clearly in the mix. U.S. storage, widely recognized to hold the last inventories to be drawn down, were in the first quarter at levels last seen in December 2014. But production of U.S. crude is on a tear, having already topped the historic 10 million barrels per day (MMbbl/d) late last year. Projections for U.S. growth this year vary, but in some cases reach 2 million barrels of oil equivalent per day (MMBoe/d), including crude and NGL.