MARKET WATCH: NYMEX crude oil prices gain on expected weekly supply decline

Light, sweet crude oil prices settled modestly above $50/bbl on the New York market on July 21, gaining support from a stronger dollar and from expectations by analysts and traders that the weekly US government crude oil inventory would decline although it actually increased.

Crude trades in dollars so a strengthening dollar had sent oil prices down because a stronger dollar makes oil more expensive for buyers using foreign currencies. But the WSJ Dollar Index recently was down 0.5%.

The Energy Information Administration on July 22 estimated US commercial crude oil inventories, excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, increased 2.5 million bbl for the week ended July 17 from the previous week for a new total of 463.9 million bbl.

Total motor gasoline inventories decreased 1.7 million bbl last week, but EIA said that level was in the upper half of the average range. Finished gasoline inventories increased while blending components inventories decreased.

Distillate fuel inventories increased 200,000 bbl, which EIA said marked the middle of the average range for this time of year. Propane-propylene inventories increased 300,000 bbl for the week ended July 17, and that number was well above the upper limit of the average range.

US refinery inputs averaged 16.9 million b/d for the week ended July 17, which was 45,000 b/d more than the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 95.5% of capacity last week. Gasoline production increased last week, averaging more than 10.1 million b/d. Distillate fuel production decreased last week, averaging 5.1 million b/d.

Crude oil imports averaged more than 7.9 million b/d last week, up 587,000 b/d from the previous week. Over the last 4 weeks, crude oil imports averaged more than 7.5 million b/d, which was 2.5% above the same 4-week period last year.

Total motor gasoline imports, including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components, last week averaged 815,000 b/d. Distillate fuel imports averaged 193,000 b/d.

Energy prices

The August crude oil contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange gained 21¢ on July 21 to settle at $50.36/bbl. The September contract was up 42¢ to $50.86/bbl.

The natural gas contract for August was up 6¢ to a rounded $2.88/MMbtu. The Henry Hub, La., gas price was $2.88/MMbtu, up 4¢.

Heating oil for August rose 2¢ to remain at a rounded $1.68/gal. The price for reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenates blending for August fell by nearly a penny to $1.92/gal.

The September ICE contract for Brent crude increased 39¢ to $57.04/bbl on July 21. The October contract was up 47¢ to $57.45/bbl. The ICE gas oil contract for August held unchanged at $511.25/tonne.

The average price for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ basket of 12 benchmark crudes for July 20 was $53.57/bbl, down 22¢.

Contact Paula Dittrick at

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

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