MARKET WATCH: Oil futures hover below $49/bbl

Light, sweet crude oil futures prices settled under $49/bbl July 23 on the New York market, which means US prices have slid more than 20% since their 2015 highs set in June.

Earlier this year, oil rallied on expectations of analysts and traders for a rebalancing of supply and demand on oil markets resulting from US producers slowing their drilling activity and completion rates. But prices have fallen recently because ample world oil supplies still are available in addition to the possibility that Iranian oil exports might be resumed eventually.

“We continue to have concerns that the oil market could be oversupplied for longer than we previously anticipated,” said Jason Gammel, oil analyst at Jefferies.

Regarding natural gas in underground storage across the Lower 48, the US Energy Information Administration estimated levels at 2.828 tcf as of July 17, which was a net increase of 61 bcf from the previous week.

Stocks were 622 bcf higher than last year at this time and 81 bcf above the 5-year average of 2.747 tcf.

That injection of 61 bcf was below an analyst consensus forecast of 63 bcf and the Raymond James & Associates Inc. estimate of 67 bcf.

Energy prices

The September crude oil contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange fell 74¢ on July 23 to settle at $48.45/bbl. The October contract was down 75¢ to $48.92/bbl.

The natural gas contract for August was down 81¢ to a rounded $2.82/MMbtu. The Henry Hub, La., gas price was up 2¢ to $2.91/MMbtu.

Heating oil for August delivery was down 1.7¢ to a rounded $1.65/gal. The price for reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenates blending for August fell by 1.5¢ to reach a rounded $1.85/gal.

The September ICE contract for Brent crude decreased 86¢ to $55.27/bbl on July 23. The October contract was down 84¢ to $55.65/bbl. The ICE gas oil contract for August was down $3.75 to $510.75/tonne.

The average price for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ basket of 12 benchmark crudes for July 23 was $53.04/bbl, down 41¢.

Contact Paula Dittrick at

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

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