MARKET WATCH: NYMEX crude oil front-month price dips to 3-week low

The price for light, sweet crude oil for March delivery continued its downward momentum Feb. 10, settling at $27.45/bbl on the New York market, the lowest level since Jan. 20 when prices settled at nearly a 13-year low of $26.55/bbl.

During the trading session, oil prices experienced a brief boost after a weekly government report showed a surprise decline in US crude oil inventories. The March crude contract traded at $28.09/bbl before the inventory report and jumped to $29.09/bbl immediately after its release.

The Energy Information Administration said US commercial crude oil inventories, excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, decreased 800,000 b/d for the week ended Feb. 5 compared with the previous week. The latest estimated total was 502 million bbl, the Petroleum Status Report said.

Total motor gasoline inventories increased 1.3 million bbl, which EIA said was well above the upper limit of the average range. Finished gasoline inventories remained unchanged while blending components inventories increased.

Distillate fuel inventories increased 1.3 million bbl, which EIA said was near the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Propane-propylene inventories fell 3.3 million bbl, but that level remained well above the upper limit of the average range.

US refinery inputs averaged more than 15.5 million b/d for the week ended Feb. 5, which was 105,000 b/d less than the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 86.1% of capacity.

Gasoline production increased, averaging about 9.6 million b/d. Distillate fuel production decreased last week, averaging about 4.4 million b/d.

US crude oil imports averaged more than 7.1 million b/d, down 1.1 million b/d from the previous week. Crude oil imports averaged 7.7 million b/d over the last 4 weeks, 5% above the same period last year.

Total motor gasoline imports, including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components, last week averaged 683,000 b/d. Distillate fuel imports averaged 201,000 b/d for the week ended Feb. 5.

Energy prices

The March crude oil contract on NYMEX dropped 49¢ to settle at $27.45/bbl on Feb. 10. The April contract declined 8¢ to $29.66/bbl.

The NYMEX natural gas contract for March dropped 5¢ to a rounded $2.05/MMbtu. The Henry Hub gas price was down 5¢ to $2.13/MMbtu on Feb. 10.

Heating oil for March delivery held steady at a rounded 98¢/gal. The price for reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenates blending for March gained 4¢ to a rounded 94¢/gal on Feb. 10.

The April ICE contract for Brent crude climbed 52¢ to $30.84/bbl on Feb. 10, and the May contract gained 52¢ to settle at $31.50/bbl. The ICE gas oil contract for March was $285.25/tonne, down $1.75.

The average price for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ basket of 12 benchmark crudes was $25.93/bbl, down $2.40.

Contact Paula Dittrick at

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