MARKET WATCH: NYMEX, Brent crude oil prices gain on production freeze hope

Light, sweet crude oil prices rose above $33/bbl on the New York market while Brent crude oil prices rose above $35/bbl on the London market on Feb. 25, and the momentum continued in early Feb. 26 trading.

Late Feb. 25, Venezuela Oil Minister Eulogio Del Pino said his country, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar plan to meet again in mid-March to discuss efforts to stabilize the oil market. Previously, the four agreed to freeze future production at January levels if other producers do the same. But Iran has said it intends to increase oil production and exports.

Jason Gammel, an analyst at Jefferies & Co. Inc., said world oil supply currently overshoots demand by about 1.3 million b/d although he expects markets will rebalance by the fourth quarter.

Statistics from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries show OPEC’s total crude oil production in January stood at 32.34 million b/d, up 131,000 b/d from December 2015.

Gammel said oil investments are falling, and he expects supply will respond to low investment via non-OPEC production declines, such as US unconventional plays.

Energy prices

The April crude oil contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange gained 92¢ to settle at $33.07/bbl Feb. 25. The May contract was up 76¢ to $34.83/bbl.

The NYMEX natural gas contract for March was down 6.7¢ to a rounded $1.71/MMbtu. The Henry Hub gas price fell 2¢ to $1.77/MMbtu.

Heating oil for March delivery gained 1¢ to a rounded $1.07/gal. The price for reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenates blending for March rose by 4.56¢ to a rounded $1.06/gal on Feb. 25.

The April ICE contract for Brent crude was up 88¢ to $35.29/bbl, and the May contract gained 63¢ to settle at $35.70/bbl. The ICE gas oil contract for March was $307.25/tonne, up $5.

The average price for OPEC’s basket of 12 benchmark crudes was $29.19/bbl, up 89¢.

Contact Paula Dittrick at

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