Financial markets attempted to buoy benchmark prices as oil and gas markets became volatile in Q1 2020. This created a disconnect in the price spreads between the NYMEX WTI futures benchmark and regional spot prices. The disconnect continued to grow at the beginning of the year until it reached a tipping point in April when prices plunged. Ultimately supply and demand at the regional level through purchasers like storage companies, airlines, and refineries will be what control the true value of crude prices and bring the market back into equilibrium.
Over the past month, a disconnect between crude prices and the value of oil companies has manifested itself in the market and until supply and demand fundamentals bring the regional crude prices, futures commodity prices, and equity valuations back into equilibrium, a tiered price disconnect will continue to exist.
Speculator sentiment towards future pricing of commodities can create a wedge between regional and benchmark prices even though they are based on the same supply-demand principles. As long as financial markets continue to buoy WTI futures, these price spreads will continue to widen.
The dual black swan events of the COVID-19 pandemic and oil price war have created a unique analytical opportunity within petroleum products as the strip price for natural gas is showing larger percentage increases than crude or NGLs because the market is pricing in the assumption that continued electricity demand will not fall as quickly as the oversupply of natural gas.