MARKET WATCH: NYMEX crude oil futures climb on anticipated inventory decline

Crude oil futures prices rose modestly Jan. 15 on the New York market, which analysts attributed to anticipation of another decline in US crude oil stocks.

The US Energy Information Administration on Jan. 15 reported commercial crude oil inventories, excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, decreased by 7.7 million bbl for the week ended Jan. 10 compared with the previous week.

The latest weekly report marked the seventh consecutive crude oil stock decline. At 350.2 million bbl, crude oil inventories are near the upper limit of the average range for this time of year, EIA said.

Separately, the American Petroleum Institute said its own estimate showed a decline in US oil stocks of 4.1 million bbl for the week ended Jan. 10 for a total of 350.8 million bbl.

An unexpected positive economic indicator came when the US Department of Commerce reported retail sales rose 0.2% in December, which economists attributed to holiday spending.

Gasoline inventories climb

Total motor gasoline inventories increased by 6.2 million bbl for the week ended Jan. 10, and EIA said that level was the middle of the average range. Finished gasoline inventories decreased while blending components inventories increased.

Distillate fuel inventories decreased by 1 million bbl, which was below the lower limit of the average range for this time of year. Propane-propylene inventories fell 3.8 million bbl, well below the lower limit of the average range.

US refinery inputs averaged 15.7 million b/d during the week ended Jan. 10, which was 403,000 b/d lower than the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 90% of capacity last week. Gasoline production decreased, averaging over 8.3 million b/d. Distillate fuel production decreased last week, averaging 4.7 million b/d.

Crude oil imports averaged 6.9 million b/d, down by 1.1 million b/d from the week ended Jan. 3. Over the last 4 weeks, crude oil imports averaged 7.4 million b/d, 5.3% below the same 4-week period last year.

Total motor gasoline imports, including finished gasoline and gasoline blending components, averaged 405,000 b/d for the week ended Jan. 10 while distillate fuel imports averaged 208,000 b/d.

Energy prices

The New York Mercantile Exchange February crude contract was up 79¢ on Jan. 14, closing at $92.59/bbl. The March contract gained 77¢ to settle at $92.78/bbl.

Heating oil for February delivery edged up less than a penny to a rounded $2.94/gal. Reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenate blending for February delivery declined 1.17¢, settling at a rounded $2.62/gal.

The February natural gas contract on NYMEX rose 9.5¢ to settle at a rounded $4.37/MMbtu. On the US spot market, the Jan. 14 gas price at Henry Hub climbed by 16.7¢ to $4.35/MMbtu.

In London, the February ICE contract for Brent crude oil was down 36¢, closing at $106.39/bbl. The March Brent contract dropped 37¢ to settle at $105.60/bbl. The ICE gas oil contract for February dropped $6.75 to $900.25/tonne.

The Organizational of Petroleum Exporting Countries reported its basket of 12 benchmark crudes was $103.99/bbl on Jan. 14, unchanged from the previous day.

Contact Paula Dittrick at

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