MARKET WATCH: NYMEX oil prices approach $48/bbl

Light, sweet crude prices rose on the New York market May 16, approaching nearly $48/bbl for the day’s high before settling at $47.72/bbl, up $1.15. The Brent crude front-month oil contract on the London market approached a 7-month high May 16 but dropped again in May 17 trading.

“After a strong day of trading yesterday and similar gains earlier today, there seems to be some profit-taking from investors and traders,” said Commerzbank analyst Carsten Fritsch. “The situation is still very bullish.” He expects lingering production disruptions worldwide could drive oil prices to $50/bbl.

On world oil markets, Libya’s divided oil representatives said they agreed to allow production in western Libya to resume moving to refineries in that area, but they have yet to end a dispute blocking exports from Marsa al-Hariga.

Libya became divided after the 2011 ouster and death of Moammar Gadhafi. A peace effort supported by the United Nations resulted in a new government getting set up in Tripoli, but factions in eastern Libya have yet to recognize that government.

On May 15, Mustafa Sanallah, chairman of Tripoli-based National Oil Co., and Naji Almugrabi, the chief of an eastern oil company, signed a draft memorandum of understanding promising to end the impasse.

The MOU proposed a unification of both companies although a parliament ruling the East would need to approve any such agreement.

Energy prices

The July crude oil contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange gained $1.52 to settle at $48.42/bbl.

The NYMEX natural gas contract for June delivery fell nearly 7¢ to a rounded $2.03/MMbtu. The Henry Hub price was $1.91/MMbtu, down 4¢.

Heating oil for June delivery gained nearly 4¢ to $1.44/gal. The price for reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenates blending for June climbed 1.8¢ to a rounded $1.61/gal.

The Brent crude contract for July on London’s ICE was up $1.14 to $48.97/bbl. The August contract gained $1.29 to $49.43/bbl. The June gas oil contract gained $11.50 to $430.25/tonne.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ basket of crudes price for May 16 was $44.37/bbl, up $1.07.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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