MARKET WATCH: NYMEX crude prices decline on unexpected US inventory jump

Crude oil prices on the New York market increased on Aug. 18, but the upward momentum was short-lived as a report from the US Energy Information Administration showed an unexpected rise in crude inventories.

EIA’s weekly Petroleum Status Report indicated that US commercial crude inventories, excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, increased 2.6 million bbl during the week ended Aug. 14 compared with the previous week. Bloomberg analysts anticipated an 820,000-bbl drop.

US crude oil imports rose 465,000 b/d from the previous week to average more than 8 million b/d. At 456.2 million bbl, US crude inventories remain near levels not seen for this time of year in at least the last 80 years.

The report also showed that total motor gasoline inventories decreased 2.7 million bbl last week. Finished gasoline inventories increased while blending components inventories decreased last week.

Separately, US House leaders this week sent a letter to BP Chief Executive Robert Dudley asking for information on the sudden shutdown of the largest crude distillation unit at the company’s Whiting, Ind., refinery on Aug. 8, which has caused a sharp spike in gasoline prices throughout the upper Midwest (OGJ Online, Aug. 18, 2015).

Energy prices

The September crude oil contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange gained 75¢ on Aug. 18 to $42.62/bbl. The October contract rose 71¢ to $43.12/bbl.

The natural gas contract for September fell 2.4¢ to a rounded $2.70/MMbtu. The Henry Hub, La., gas price declined 5¢ to $2.71/MMbtu.

Heating oil for September delivery edged up than a penny to a rounded $1.56/gal. The price for reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenates blending for September was virtually unchanged at a rounded $1.65/gal.

The October ICE contract for Brent crude increased 7¢ to $48.81/bbl, while the November contract was unchanged at $49.58/bbl. The ICE gas oil contract for September declined $4.50 to $471/tonne.

The average price for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ basket of 12 benchmark crudes for Aug. 18 was $45.77/bbl, losing 19¢.

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