MARKET WATCH: NYMEX, Brent crude oil prices gain for second day

Light, sweet oil prices on the New York market and Brent prices on the London market both rose for a second consecutive day Sept. 22 while US natural gas futures prices fell after the government reported a storage increase.

The US Energy Information Administration estimated gas in underground storage across the Lower 48 at 3.55 tcf as of Sept. 16, which was a net increase of 52 bcf from the previous week. Stocks were 140 bcf higher than last year at this time, the Gas Storage Report said.

Baker Hughes Inc. was scheduled to release its weekly rig count on Sept. 23, which is closely watched by analysts and consultants for an indication of likely future oil production.

Oil officials from Saudi Arabia disagreed this week with Iranian oil officials about how to determine oil production limits, the Wall Street Journal reported. Mid-level officials from Saudi Arabia, Iran, Qatar, and Algeria met in Vienna at the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ headquarters.

The disagreement came in discussions ahead of the International Energy Forum conference starting Sept. 26 in Algeria at which OPEC members are expected to informally discuss oil prices.

Saudi Arabia and Iran disagree on which statistics should be used to determine oil output levels. A proposed production freeze would involve producers limiting output at current levels or lower.

Iran wants to use statistics produced by OPEC members’ governments while Saudi Arabia favors independent assessments by secondary sources, the WSJ reported, citing unidentified sources familiar with the Vienna meeting. Secondary sources involve analysts and consultants.

Algerian Energy Minister Noureddine Bouterfa said OPEC might turn the informal meeting in Algiers into a formal extraordinary meeting.

He expects the informal meeting will start after the Sept. 28 closing session of the conference in Algiers. But most analysts are doubtful that any actual agreement will result. OPEC officials already have said it’s an informal meeting with no intention to strike an agreement.

Energy prices

The November crude oil contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange gained 98¢ on Sept. 22 to close at $46.33/bbl. The December contract was up 98¢ to $46.88/bbl.

The natural gas contract for October decreased nearly 7¢ to a rounded $2.99/MMbtu. On the spot market, the Henry Hub gas price was unchanged at $3.14/MMbtu.

Heating oil for October gained 2.5¢ to a rounded $1.45/gal. The price for reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenates blending edged up less than a penny to a rounded $1.40/gal.

The November Brent crude contract on London’s ICE climbed 82¢ to settle at $47.65/bbl and the December contract rose 92¢ to settle at $48.21/bbl. The October gas oil contract settled at $427.50/tonne, up $9.25.

The average price for OPEC’s basket of 12 benchmark crudes on Sept. 22 was $43.27/bbl, up 73¢.

Contact Paula Dittrick at

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