By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, Apr. 13 -- Energy futures prices continued to climb amid increasing violence by Iraqi rebels and reports of refineries in Texas and New Mexico being shut down for late maintenance in the face of growing US demand for gasoline.
Meanwhile, US Treasury Sec. John Snow criticized members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries for cutting its official production quota by 1 million b/d effective Apr. 1. His comments prompted buying by speculators, analysts said. Traders have been surprised by the continued strength of demand for crude and refined products, and prices appear unlikely to fall substantially for the next several months, said analysts.
The May contract for benchmark US light, sweet crudes jumped by 70¢ to $37.84/bbl Monday on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while the June position advanced by 65¢ to $37.24/bbl. On the US spot market, West Texas Intermediate at Cushing, Okla., also increased by 70¢, to $37.83/bbl.
Gasoline for May delivery closed at $1.1803/gal, up by 2.95¢ for the day, after hitting a 10-year record high of $1.183/gal Monday on NYMEX. Heating oil for the same month bumped up by 1.7¢ to 94.24¢/gal.
The May natural gas contract finished the day at $6.009/Mcf, up 6.8¢ for the day, after hitting a contract high of $6.03 in early afternoon trade Monday. That market was "driven by a strong rally in crude oil, despite moderate late-week weather forecasts that should slow demand," said analysts Tuesday at Enerfax Daily. "Most other months also saw new contract highs and ended up," they said.
In London, the International Petroleum Exchange was closed Friday and Monday for public holidays, but energy contracts were expected to rally when it reopened Tuesday.
The average price of OPEC's basket of seven benchmark crudes increased by 55¢ to $32.92/bbl Monday.