MARKET WATCH: NYMEX crude oil prices gain modestly, top $34/bbl

Light, sweet crude oil prices gained for a third consecutive session on the New York market Mar. 2 with the contract for April delivery holding above $34/bbl despite a weekly government report that showed a surprise jump in US crude oil inventories.

But analysts noted prices were supported by a fall in US oil production, which eventually will help relieve an oil oversupply.

The Energy Information Administration reported US crude production for the week ended Feb. 26 slipped by 25,000 b/d to 9.077 million b/d. The latest production total was down 247,000 b/d compared with output for this same period 1 year ago.

Regardless of dropping production, the bigger-than-expected boost in US oil supply put a lid on price gains for the Mar. 2 trading session. EIA estimated supplies grew by 10.4 million bbl to 518 million bbl, the Petroleum Status Report said.

US natural gas futures prices fell in advance of the weekly EIA’s estimate of gas in underground storage across the Lower 48.

Working gas in storage was 2.536 tcf as of Feb. 26, a net decline of 48 bcf from the previous week. Stocks were 794 bcf higher than last year at this time and 666 bcf above the 5-year average of 1.870 tcf. The latest estimate also remained above the 5-year historic range, the Gas Storage Report said.

Energy prices

The April crude oil contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange climbed 26¢ to settle at $34.66/bbl on Mar. 2. The May contract was up 15¢ to $36.30/bbl.

The NYMEX natural gas contract for April was down 6¢ to a rounded $1.68/MMbtu. The Henry Hub gas price rose 2¢ on Mar. 2 to $1.59/MMbtu.

Heating oil for April delivery rose 0.7¢ to a rounded $1.11/gal. The price for reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenates blending for April also gained 0.7¢ to a rounded $1.31/gal on Mar. 2.

The May ICE contract for Brent crude climbed to $36.93/bbl, up 12¢. The June ICE contract also gained 8¢ to settle at $37.55/bbl. The ICE gas oil contract for March was $331/tonne, up $8.50.

The average price for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ basket of 12 benchmark crudes was $31.65/bbl, down 6¢.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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