MARKET WATCH: NYMEX oil prices climb modestly on Yellen’s interest-rate comments

The crude oil contract for November delivery gained modestly to close at just under $45/bbl on the New York market Sept. 24 following a speech by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen in which she said the US economy was strong enough to support an interest-rate increase later this year.

She spoke at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, saying action by the Fed would provide more clarity for investors facing a volatile stock market.

Oil markets were supported by lower US oil inventories. The US Energy Information Administration reported a decline of 1.9 million bbl in the estimated crude oil inventory for the week ended Sept. 18. The latest estimated total was 454 million bbl (OGJ Online, Sept. 23, 2015).

On Sept. 25, traders and analysts awaited release of the Baker Hughes Inc. weekly rig count numbers, which is an indicator of future oil and gas production.

Regarding natural gas in underground storage across the Lower 48, EIA estimated levels at 3.4 tcf as of Sept. 18, a net increase of 106 bcf from the previous week. Stocks were 466 bcf higher than last year at this time and 148 bcf above the 5-year average of nearly 3.3 tcf, the Gas Storage Report said.

Separately, Iran said it expects to boost oil exports by 500,000 b/d by late November or early December, mostly with sales to Asia, a top Iranian oil official told The Wall Street Journal.

This would allow Iran to exceed its current oil exports by 1 million b/d by about June 2016, the official told WSJ. The boost could come before most western sanctions are lifted, putting pressure on oil prices.

Energy prices

The November crude oil contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose 43¢ to $44.91/bbl on Sept. 24 while the November crude oil contract was up 38¢ to $45.48/bbl.

The natural gas contract for October rose by 2¢ to $2.59/MMbtu. The Henry Hub, La., gas price dropped 3¢ to $2.56/MMbtu.

Heating oil for October delivery gained 1.8¢ to a rounded $1.52/gal. The price for reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenates blending for October was down 1.6¢ to a rounded $1.36/gal.

The November ICE contract for Brent crude increased 42¢ to $48.17/bbl, and the December contract added 38¢ to settle at $48.86/bbl. The ICE gas oil contract was unavailable.

The average price for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ basket of 12 benchmark crudes was $44.48/bbl on Sept. 25, down 21¢ from the previous day.

Contact Paula Dittrick at

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

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