MARKET WATCH: NYMEX oil prices fall more than $1/bbl in thin trading

Light, sweet crude oil prices fell more than $1/bbl on the New York market Mar. 23 with the May contract closing at $39.79/bbl, and analysts noted price fluctuations were especially pronounced because trading volumes were light going into the Easter holiday weekend.

The US Energy Information Administration’s weekly crude oil inventory report showed US commercial oil supplies, excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, jumped 9.4 million bbl for the week ended Mar. 18 compared with the previous week’s total (OGJ Online, Mar. 23, 2016).

The latest crude total was 532.5 million bbl, which was 14% higher than the same period a year ago, the Petroleum Status Report showed.

US production was 9.038 million b/d for the week ended Mar. 18, down 30,000 b/d compared with the previous week, EIA said. The production estimate includes lease condensate and is estimated using short-term forecasts for the Lower 48 and the latest available production estimates from Alaska.

US natural gas prices fell on the New York futures market Mar. 23, ending a recent rally. Gas has fallen in three of four sessions. Market participants are closely watching robust production levels and high storage numbers.

Regarding natural gas in underground storage across the Lower 48, EIA estimated levels at 2.493 tcf as of Mar. 18, a net increase of 15 bcf from the previous week.

Stocks were 1 tcf higher than last year at this time and 846 bcf above the 5-year average of 1.647 tcf, the Gas Storage Report said.

Energy prices

The May crude oil contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange dropped $1.66 to $39.79/bbl on Mar. 23. The June contract was down by $1.56 to $40.87/bbl.

The NYMEX natural gas contract for April fell nearly 7¢ to a rounded $1.79/MMbtu. The Henry Hub gas price was $1.80/MMbtu, up 5¢.

Heating oil for April delivery declined nearly 5¢ to a rounded $1.20/gal. The price for reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenates blending for April fell 4¢ to a rounded $1.45/gal on Mar. 23.

The Brent crude contract for May on London’s ICE declined $1.32 to $40.47/bbl. The June contract was down $1.42 to $41.09/bbl. The ICE gas oil contract for April was unavailable.

The average price for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ basket of 12 benchmark crudes was $36.19/bbl, down 48¢ after the OPEC Secretariat revised its price for Mar. 22 down 1¢ to $36.67/bbl. The Secretariat office will be closed Mar. 25 and Mar. 28.

Contact Paula Dittrick at

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