MARKET WATCH: NYMEX, Brent oil prices each jump by more than $1/bbl

Light, sweet crude oil prices for April delivery on the New York market climbed $1.35 to settle at nearly $36/bbl on Mar. 4, marking a third consecutive week for price gains. The number of active US oil rigs dropped to the lowest level since 2009.

The overall weekly rig count from Baker Hughes Inc. showed a 13-unit loss to 489 during the week ended Mar. 4, the ninth consecutive week of double-digit declines. The total was 1 unit from matching what could be the rig count’s lowest level in modern history (OGJ Online, Mar. 4, 2016).

Also last week, Nigeria Oil Minister Emmanuel Kachikwu said a Mar. 20 meeting was scheduled in Moscow between some representatives of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-OPEC countries to “fine-tune collaborative strategies” regarding oil production levels.

Four producers, including Russia, agreed in February to freeze oil production at January levels if other producers would do the same. But Iran already has said it will refuse to join the production freeze pact.

Analysts generally are skeptical of the agreement, adding that January production levels were near record highs for some countries.

Energy prices

The April crude oil contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange jumped $1.35 to settle at $35.92/bbl on Mar. 4, marking the highest settlement since Jan. 5. For the week, US crude was up 9.6%. The May contract gained $1.42 to $37.75/bbl.

The NYMEX natural gas contract for April was up 2.7¢ to a rounded $1.67/MMbtu. The Henry Hub gas price for Mar. 4 was $1.49, down 7¢.

Heating oil for April delivery rose 4¢ to a rounded $1.16/gal. The price for reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenates blending for April gained 3¢ to a rounded $1.33/gal on Mar. 4.

The Brent crude contract for May on London’s ICE climbed $1.65 to $38.72/bbl, which was the highest close for Brent’s front-month contract since Dec. 10, 2015. The June ICE contract gained $1.66 to settle at $39.36/bbl. The ICE gas oil contract for March was $336.75/tonne, up $6.25.

The average price for OPEC’s basket of 12 benchmark crudes was $32.34/bbl, up 73¢.

Contact Paula Dittrick at

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