It is 11:45 a.m. on Tuesday. The market has been quiet all morning, not just on the Gulf coast and New York Harbor but across all spot markets.
As any fuel marketer worth his salt knows, all days can surprise you.
On this particular Tuesday, April 26, 2016 gas prices rallied 6.29 cents/gallon in the US Gulf coast, which put the entire industry into motion. Suppliers began to review their allocation strategies. Dispatch teams evaluated their supply situations and redirected certain driver pull points. Every level of the fuel supply chain was activated because of what outsiders to the industry wouldn’t even grasp.
It turns out though that this particular Tuesday isn’t that surprising. The US downstream fuels market sees this day and many like it as the new normal.
But what has changed?
The answer is simple: Just like everything else in your life, technology has raised the bar. The good news is you won’t need your daughter or granddaughter to show you how to use the newest bit of technology to make your life easier in the world of wholesale fuel marketing.
For more than a decade we’ve been dealing with price volatility featuring extremely wild price changes within the trading day. That resulted in certain savvy refiners opting for reactionary strategies like intra-day price moves. That wasn’t easy on anyone, however, especially customers trying to figure out exactly what the price might be when they actually got a truck to the terminal to lift the product.
Fast forward a few years and meet the concept of “real time” pricing, offered by a few industrious price data providers who began to offer daytime pricing based off of the Nymex. Despite the effort, it was still missing that dynamic mix of constantly updated Nymex plus exactly current differentials for each major market.
Today, the game has gotten much more sophisticated. Very educated and experienced marketers are now using an advanced tool that applies an educated algorithm of deals done and bid/ask information to the latest available underlying basis to create unprecedented visibility into micro-markets. These fast-thinking companies have adapted their practices to give them insight into the actual transactable value for specific fuel grades at specific locations at the precise moment they are interested in doing business.
That sounds smart, but how are they doing it?
At the urging of a few of its clients, seasoned industry leader Argus Media, best known for spot price discovery, developed a revolutionary online dashboard. Ticking and updated in absolute real time, this tool incorporates a bevy of transactional data into some innovative formulas that provide its users with up-to-the-minute values for just about any liquid transportation fuel.
“The Argus Spot Ticker has changed the way I do business. I was a subscriber to a real time ticker in the past but this is the first time I’ve ever been able to gauge the true value of the molecules I am buying and selling. This is ‘right now’ information. It changes everything,” one user shared.
The Argus Spot Ticker also features benchmarks that happen at crucial times throughout the day. It also focuses on the critical early afternoon period when companies are faced with their own internal market calls and other important and potentially costly decisions, like dispatching and logistics management.
Because there are so many different business models in the downstream products space, the Argus Spot Ticker includes several customization options for the user or group of users to make the most critical pieces of information — say geographies or product groups — independent and illuminated based on job function.
With the stiff competition that has continued to develop in the already tight supply chain of the US transportation fuels market, who wouldn’t want to take advantage of every piece of data available in order to get the most accurate picture of the day’s activity?