MARKET WATCH: NYMEX oil price climbs back toward $45/bbl

Light, sweet crude oil prices for August delivery gained nearly 30¢ to settle at just under $45/bbl on the New York market July 20 after a weekly US government report showed the ninth consecutive decline in crude oil supplies.

The drop in the US Energy Information Administration’s estimated crude supplies overshadowed traders’ and analysts’ reaction to increased US gasoline supplies.

EIA estimated total US crude production at 8.49 million b/d for the week ended July 15, up 9,000 b/d. The gain stemmed from increased Alaskan output. EIA reported weekly oil production across the Lower 48 was down 29,000 b/d while Alaska production was up 38,000 b/d.

US commercial crude oil inventories, excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, dropped 2.3 million bbl to 519.5 million bbl for the week ended July 15, EIA said (OGJ Online, July 20, 2016).

The Petroleum Status Report said total motor gasoline inventories rose about 900,000 bbl. Distillate fuel inventories fell 200,000 bbl.

An S&P Global Platts survey results said analysts had expected a gasoline draw of 625,000 bbl. EIA statistics showed a “pretty run-of-the-mill set of numbers,” said Anthony Starkey, energy analysis manager at Platts Analytics, a forecasting and analytics unit of S&P Global Platts.

“What we don’t need right now is run-of-the-mill, but outsized draws to give an indication that supply and demand are converging at the necessary pace to generate large stock drawdowns and warrant much-needed higher prices for the upstream sector,” Starkey said.

Some analysts suggest that large gasoline inventories could serve as a cap for US crude oil prices. Since the week ended Apr. 1, the surplus of gasoline supplies to the EIA 5-year average for the same reporting period has ranged 10-13%, Platts said.

The latest gasoline inventory was 12% above the average reported during 2011-15 for the same time of year.

Energy prices

The NYMEX crude oil contract for August gained 29¢ to settle at $44.94/bbl on July 20. The September contract gained 30¢ to close at $45.75/bbl.

The natural gas contract for August dropped 7¢ to $2.66/MMbtu. The Henry Hub gas price declined 9¢ to $2.72/MMbtu on July 20.

Heating oil for August delivery gained 2¢ to a rounded $1.40/gal. The price for reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenates blending for August dropped 1¢ to a rounded $1.36/gal.

The September Brent crude contract on London’s ICE gained 51¢ on July 20 to $47.17/bbl. The contract for October added 47¢ to $47.65/bbl. The August gas oil contract settled at $413/tonne, up $3.75.

The average price for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ basket of 12 benchmark crudes was $42.73/bbl on July 20, up 7¢.

Contact Paula Dittrick at

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