MARKET WATCH: NYMEX crude oil prices gain pending inventory

The light, sweet crude oil contract for October delivery gained slightly on the New York market Sept. 20 to hold above $43/bbl while natural gas prices jumped on US futures and spot markets.

Meanwhile, analysts awaited the Sept. 21 release of the weekly government inventory of oil and product supplies.

US gas futures rallied back above $3/MMbtu to their highest settlement since January 2015, which analysts attributed to forecasts calling for warm weather and likely high demand for gas-fired air conditioning.

Analysts also watched for any news from the Federal Reserve’s September monetary policy meeting, concluding Sept. 21. Any hints at the timing of a change in US interest rates could affect the value of the dollar in relation to other currencies.

Oil is traded in dollars so changes in currency values can influence oil prices. A strengthening dollar makes oil more expensive for buyers using other currencies.

On world oil markets, Brent crude oil prices declined slightly on the London market. The Russian representative to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said Russia would support an agreement to stabilize oil prices for a year, Vladimir Voronkov, Russia’s representative to OPEC, commented to Interfax. Some members of OPEC plan to participate in informal talks about oil markets starting Sept. 26 on the sidelines of another energy conference in Algeria. Russia is not a member of OPEC.

OPEC members repeatedly have discussed but failed to agree on a deal to freeze production levels in efforts to help raise oil prices. Most analysts are doubtful that any agreement will result from the informal talks.

BMI Research said there would be little change in market fundaments even if a production freeze were to be reached because most cartel members already are pumping at or near maximum capacity.

Energy prices

The October crude oil contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange gained 14¢ on Sept. 20 to close at $43.44/bbl. The November contract was up 19¢ to $44.05/bbl.

The natural gas contract for October increased 11¢ to a rounded $3.05/MMbtu. On the spot market, the Henry Hub gas price was up 11¢ to $3.08/MMbtu.

Heating oil for October gained 1¢ to a rounded $1.40/gal. The price for reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenates blending was down 5¢ to a rounded $1.36/gal. Gasoline prices have been volatile because of concerns about possible supply disruptions to the US East Coast following a leak on the Colonial Pipeline in Alabama.

The November Brent crude contract on London’s ICE dropped 7¢ to settle at $45.88/bbl and the December contract fell 6¢ to settle at $46.36/bbl. The October gas oil contract settled at $413.25/tonne, down $5.

The average price for OPEC’s basket of 12 benchmark crudes on Sept. 20 was $41.55/bbl, down 54¢.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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