MARKET WATCH: NYMEX crude oil futures move up slightly awaiting inventory

Crude oil prices on the New York market rose modestly on Dec. 30 awaiting the weekly US government report on crude oil and product supplies. Prices have plummeted 50% compared with June levels based upon abundant worldwide oil supply, boosted by production from unconventional plays.

The Energy Information Administration reported on Dec. 31 that US commercial crude oil inventories, excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, decreased 1.8 million bbl for the week ended Dec. 26 compared with the previous week.

At 385.5 million bbl, crude inventories were well above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year, EIA said in its weekly petroleum status report. Analysts surveyed by the Wall Street Journal had expected EIA to report that oil supplies fell 600,000 bbl for the week ended Dec. 26.

In its monthly petroleum supply report for October, EIA said US product demand rose to 19.63 million b/d—the highest level since 2010. EIA attributed that rise to higher gasoline and distillate consumption.

US crude oil production rose 65,000 b/d to 9.05 million b/d during October, EIA said, driven by growth from Texas and continued recovery in production from Alaska. EIA released its latest petroleum supply monthly report on Dec. 30.

US crude imports drop

US crude oil imports averaged 7.1 million b/d for the week ended Dec. 26, down 1.2 million b/d from the previous week, EIA said in its weekly inventory. Over the last 4 weeks, crude oil imports averaged over 7.5 million b/d, 1.7% above the same 4-week period last year.

Total motor gasoline imports, including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components, last week averaged 843,000 b/d. Distillate fuel imports averaged 175,000 b/d.

US crude oil refinery inputs averaged 16.4 million b/d during the week ended Dec. 26, which was 36,000 b/d more than the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 94.4% of capacity.

Gasoline production increased, averaging 10.2 million b/d. Distillate fuel production increased last week, averaging 5.3 million b/d. Total motor gasoline inventories increased by 3 million bbl last week, and are well above the upper limit of the average range.

Both finished gasoline inventories and blending components inventories increased last week.

Distillate fuel inventories increased by 1.9 million bbl, which EIA called the lower half of the average range for this time of year. Propane-propylene inventories fell 600,000 bbl last week but are well above the upper limit of the average range.

Energy prices

The New York Mercantile Exchange February crude oil contract rose 51¢ on Dec. 30, closing at $54.12/bbl. The March contract climbed 50¢ to $54.53/bbl.

The natural gas contract for February settled down 10¢ to a rounded $3.09/MMbtu. The cash gas price at Henry Hub, La., went the opposite direction, rising 11¢ to $3.12/MMbtu on Dec. 30.

Heating oil for January delivery climbed nearly 2¢ to a rounded $1.87/gal. Reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenate blending for January edged up less than a penny to remain at a rounded $1.45/gal.

The February 2015 ICE contract for Brent crude oil rose 2¢ to $57.90/bbl. The March contract was up 7¢ to $58.73/bbl.

The ICE gas oil contract for January dropped $9.50 to $525.75/tonne.

The average price for OPEC’s basket of 12 benchmark crudes on Dec. 30 was unavailable because the OPEC office was closed.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

*Paula Dittrick is editor of OGJ’s Unconventional Oil & Gas Report.

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