MARKET WATCH: WTI rises, Brent declines in mixed market

The front-month contract for benchmark US crude recovered a modest 0.4% Apr. 24 in the New York market, but natural gas dropped 1.6% with the return of warmer-than-normal weather in the US Northeast.

“The oil market was mixed, with West Texas Intermediate making small gains while Brent declined further,” said James Zhang at Standard New York Securities Inc., the Standard Bank Group. “Better-than-expected sovereign bond auctions form the Euro-zone fueled a relief rally in European equities, and US equity was also supported by good corporate earnings. Oil products were soft in general as the market anticipates refineries to ramp up run rates in the coming months.”

Time spreads in Brent were weak with apparently “plenty of prompt physical cargoes yet to be lifted,” Zhang said. “The news of production issues at the Forties field, which tended to drive a big rally in the Brent spread early on this year, has so far had a very muted effect on the market. In addition, dated Brent remained in cantango, although the cantango structure has flattened slightly in the past couple of days.”

The euro and the European main equity market continued to recover in early trading Apr. 25 after sharp drops Apr. 23. “The reaction of the oil market during the past 2 days was relatively mild during both the [Apr. 23] sell-off and the [Apr. 24] recovery,” Zhang said. “It appears that oil market fundamentals have been playing a bigger role lately as the growth in speculative length in the oil market is leveling off.”

Olivier Jakob at Petromatrix in Zug, Switzerland, noted the Brent premium to WTI lost on Apr. 24 “all the gains that it made” in the previous session. “The reformulated stock for oxygenate blending (RBOB) gasoline crack also lost some of the [earlier] gains but not all of it,” he reported. “The refining margins in the Atlantic Basin have improved over the last few weeks, being helped as well by cash differentials in crude oil that had to go lower in order to push barrels into refineries.”

Jakob said, “On Apr. 23, it was Sunoco Inc. that was announcing that it was pushing forward its proposed [Philadelphia refinery] closing date by one month from July to August; and yesterday it was the Petronor Bilbao refinery that was announcing the restart of its second distillation tower and associated reformer due to better margins (Petronor had shut those units at the start of January). With refinery units that were idled due to poor margins starting to be put back into service while the high prices are still at risk for end-user demand, we want to remain cautious on the long side of the gasoline relative values.”

Sunoco is in exclusive discussions with the Carlyle Group regarding a potential joint venture involving Sunoco's 330,000 b/d refinery in Philadelphia. However, Sunoco officials said if a transaction is not completed, the company will proceed to shut down the refinery’s main processing units in August.

The Petronor SA subsidiary of Repsol YPF SA operates the Bilbao refinery in Spain.

US inventories

The Energy Information Administration said Apr. 25 commercial US crude inventories escalated by 4 million bbl to 373 million bbl in the week ended Apr. 20, more than Wall Street’s consensus for a 2.8 million bbl increase. Gasoline inventories fell 2.2 million bbl to 211.7 million bbl in the same period, exceeding analyst’s expectations of a 1.5 million bbl decline. Both finished gasoline and blending components decreased last week. Distillate fuel inventories dropped 3.1 million bbl to 125.9 million bbl; the market anticipated a gain of 500,000 bbl.

The American Petroleum Institute earlier reported US crude stocks dropped 985,000 bbl to 368.4 million bbl last week. It reported gasoline and distillate fuel inventories fell 3.6 million bbl each to 216.8 million bbl and 128.9 million bbl, respectively.

Imports of crude into the US increased 48,000 b/d to 8.8 million b/d last week, EIA officials reported. In the 4 weeks through Apr. 20, US crude imports averaged 8.9 million b/d, an increase of 235,000 b/d above the comparable period last year. Gasoline imports last week averaged 620,000 b/d while distillate fuel imports averaged 107,000 b/d.

EIA said the input of crude into US refineries increased 23,000 b/d to 14.5 million b/d last week, with units operating at 84.7% of capacity. However, both gasoline and distillate fuel production decreased to 8.8 million b/d and 4.2 million b/d, respectively.

Energy prices

The June contract for benchmark US light, sweet crudes regained 44¢ to $103.55/bbl Apr. 24 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The July contract took back 41¢ to $103.96/bbl. On the US spot market, WTI at Cushing, Okla., was up 5¢ to $103.16/bbl.

Heating oil for May delivery, however, retreated 1.03¢ to $3.13/gal on NYMEX. RBOB for the same month lost 2.8¢ to $3.16/gal.

The May natural gas contract fell 3.2¢ to $1.98/MMbtu on NYMEX. On the US spot market, gas at Henry Hub, La., continued climbing, up 6¢ to $1.98/MMbtu.

In London, the June IPE contract for North Sea Brent continued to slip, down 55¢ to $118.16/bbl. Gas oil for May rose $6.25 to $996/tonne.

The average price for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ basket of 12 benchmark crudes gained 30¢ to $115.80/bbl.

Contact Sam Fletcher at

Related Articles

PHMSA proposes pipeline accident notification regulations

07/02/2015 The US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has proposed new federal oil and gas pipeline accident and notification regulations. ...

FourPoint Energy to acquire Anadarko basin assets from Chesapeake

07/02/2015 FourPoint Energy LLC, a privately owned Denver company, plans to acquire oil and gas assets from Chesapeake Energy Corp. subsidiaries Chesapeake Ex...

Puma Energy completes purchase of Murco’s UK refinery, terminals

07/02/2015 Singapore-based Puma Energy Group Pte. has completed its purchase of UK midstream and downstream assets from Murco Petroleum Ltd., a subsidiary of ...

BP to settle federal, state Deepwater Horizon claims for $18.7 billion

07/02/2015 BP Exploration & Production Inc. has agreed in principle to settle all federal and state claims arising from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon inciden...

MARKET WATCH: NYMEX oil prices plummet on crude inventory build, Iran deadline extension

07/02/2015 Oil prices plummeted more than $2/bbl July 1 to settle at a 2-month low on the New York market after a weekly government report showed the first ri...

API to issue recommended practice to address pipeline safety

07/01/2015 The American Petroleum Institute expects to issue a new recommended practice in another few weeks that addresses pipeline safety issues, but the tr...

Shell Midstream Partners takes interest in Poseidon oil pipeline

07/01/2015 Shell Midstream Partners LP has completed its acquisition of 36% equity interest in Poseidon Oil Pipeline Co. LLC from Equilon Enterprises LLC, a s...

MARKET WATCH: Oil prices decline as US crude inventories post first gain in 9 weeks

07/01/2015 Oil prices on July 1 surrendered much of their gains from the day before after the release of a government report showing the first rise in US crud...

FWS issues Shell letter of authorization on Chukchi Sea lease

07/01/2015 The US Fish & Wildlife Service issued Shell Gulf of Mexico Inc. a letter of authorization (LOA) related to the potential disturbance of polar b...
White Papers

Definitive Guide to Cybersecurity for the Oil & Gas Industry

In the Oil and Gas industry, there is no single adversary and no single threat to the information tech...

UAS Integration for Infrastructure: More than Just Flying

Oil and gas companies recognize the benefits that the use of drones or unmanned aerial systems (UAS) c...

Solutions to Financial Distress Resulting from a Weak Oil and Gas Price Environment

The oil and gas industry is in the midst of a prolonged worldwide downturn in commodity prices. While ...
Sponsored by

2015 Global Engineering Information Management Solutions Competitive Strategy Innovation and Leadership Award

The Frost & Sullivan Best Practices Awards recognise companies in a variety of regional and global...
Sponsored by

Three Tips to Improve Safety in the Oil Field

Working oil fields will always be tough work with inherent risks. There’s no getting around that. Ther...
Sponsored by

Pipeline Integrity: Best Practices to Prevent, Detect, and Mitigate Commodity Releases

Commodity releases can have catastrophic consequences, so ensuring pipeline integrity is crucial for p...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Digital Asset Approach - Defining a new era of collaboration in capital projects and asset operations

There is constant, intensive change in the capital projects and asset life cycle management. New chall...
Sponsored by

Transforming the Oil and Gas Industry with EPPM

With budgets in the billions, timelines spanning years, and life cycles extending over decades, oil an...
Sponsored by
Available Webcasts

Operating a Sustainable Oil & Gas Supply Chain in North America

When Tue, Oct 20, 2015

Short lead times and unpredictable conditions in the Oil & Gas industry can create costly challenges in supply chains. By implementing a LEAN culture of continuous improvement you can eliminate waste, increase productivity and gain end-to-end visibility leading to a sustainable and well-oiled supply chain.

Please join us for this webcast sponsored by Ryder System, Inc.


On Demand

Leveraging technology to improve safety & reliability

Tue, Sep 22, 2015

Attend this informative webinar to learn more about how to leverage technology to meet the new OSHA standards and protect your employees from the hazards of arc flash explosions.


The Resilient Oilfield in the Internet of Things World

Tue, Sep 22, 2015

As we hear about the hype surrounding the Internet of Things, the oil and gas industry is questioning what is different than what is already being done. What is new?  Using sensors and connecting devices is nothing new to our mode of business and in many ways the industry exemplifies many principles of an industrial internet of things. How does the Internet of Things impact the oil and gas industry?

Prolific instrumentation and automation digitized the industry and has changed the approach to business models calling for a systems led approach.  Resilient Systems have the ability to adapt to changing circumstances while maintaining their central purpose.  A resilient system, such as Maximo, allows an asset intensive organization to leverage connected devices by merging real-time asset information with other critical asset information and using that information to create a more agile organization.  

Join this webcast, sponsored by IBM, to learn how about Internet of Things capabilities and resilient systems are impacting the landscape of the oil and gas industry.


Taking the Headache out of Fuel License and Exemption Certificates: How to Ensure Compliance

Tue, Aug 25, 2015

This webinar, brought to you by Avalara, will detail the challenges of tax document management, as well as recommend solutions for fuel suppliers. You will learn:

-    Why it’s critical to track business partner licenses and exemption documents
-    The four key business challenges of ensuring tax compliance through document management
-    Best practice business processes to minimize exposure to tax errors


Emerson Micro Motion Videos

Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!


Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected