Logistics has momentum and a tail. A substantial inventory of oil stock is required to keep the system from snagging on the many risks. In July 2008 the potential of gasoline outages in the U.S. Southeast were high. By September 2008 gasoline outages were common.
Since the U.S. East Coast gets much of its gasoline from Europe, the logistical tail for the gasoline coming to the U.S. East Coast is about to get stepped on European debt:
- Euro broke below key technical levels, May 8, 2012. This will affect refiners ability to hedge and buy oil.
- Bankruptcy filing by Petroplus underscores the fragility of refiner in Europe.
- Greece's New Leftist Leader Says Bailout Deal Is Dead
- New French President promises more growth and less austerity.
- Germany Chancellor Merkel demands hard-won EU fiscal pact be enforced.
Here is an image of oil inventories in stock in the U.S. by region. The U.S. East Coast is the largest consuming region yet oil inventories are just above zero (green).
Financial fragility is amplified by political instability of the oil supply through Egypt and from Iran and Libya.
The net is that financial disarray of European debt will affect refineries access to debt to buy oil, refineries ability to collect from their EU customers, will likely impact their gasoline shipments to the U.S. East Coast. The odds of gasoline lines are extraordinarily high.
Gasoline futures (NYMEX, RBOB) are trending down but will likely jump up between June and Oct. Life requires energy, in a supply shock prices will jump higher. The downside risk is that the U.S. economy will collapse as the European debt crisis unfolds.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.