MARKET WATCH: NYMEX oil price tops $32/bbl, gas at 2-month low

Light, sweet crude oil prices for April delivery gained slightly Feb. 24 to close just above $32/bbl on the New York market, reversing declines from the previous day even though the weekly US inventory report showed oil supplies rose to another record high. But, gasoline supplies fell.

The Energy Information Administration estimated US commercial crude oil inventories, excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, increased 3.5 million bbl for the week ended Feb. 19 compared with the previous week. The latest total was 507.6 million bbl, the Petroleum Status Report said (OGJ Online, Feb. 24, 2016). EIA said total motor gasoline inventories decreased 2.2 million bbl.

Meanwhile, US natural gas futures prices stood at a 2-month low Feb. 24 ahead of weekly inventory data. Analysts attributed high storage levels to continued strong production and weak demand.

El Nino weather has kept temperatures warmer than normal in the eastern US this winter, dampening heating demand.

Working gas in storage across the Lower 48 was 2.584 tcf as of Feb. 19, EIA estimated. That marked a net decline of 117 bcf from the previous week.

Stocks were 615 bcf higher than the same period last year and 577 bcf above the 5-year average of a rounded 2 tcf, the Natural Gas Storage Report said.

Analysts noted the 117-bcf decline was less than the 5-year average withdrawal of 144 bcf for that week.

Energy prices

The April crude oil contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange gained 28¢ to settle at $32.15/bbl Feb. 24. The May contract was up 47¢ to $34.07/bbl.

The NYMEX natural gas contract for March was down 0.4¢ to remain at rounded $1.78/MMbtu, which was the lowest level since Dec. 18. The Henry Hub gas price dropped 4¢ to $1.79/MMbtu.

Heating oil for March delivery gained 3.7¢ to a rounded $1.06/gal. The price for reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenates blending for March rose 4.4¢ to a rounded $1.01/gal on Feb. 24.

The April ICE contract for Brent crude was up $1.14 to $33.41/bbl, and the May contract gained $1.10 to settle at $35.07/bbl. The ICE gas oil contract for March was $302.25/tonne, up 25¢.

The average price for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ basket of 12 benchmark crudes was $28.30/bbl, down 64¢.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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