MARKET WATCH: Energy prices continue to waffle

Energy prices continued to waffle with both crude and natural gas futures contracts posting losses Feb. 15 in the New York market, but North Sea Brent crude was less affected.

Nevertheless, Marc Ground at Standard New York Securities Inc., the Standard Bank Group, said, “A rosier demand outlook has kept interest in oil markets alive. Strong crude oil imports from China and last week’s demand outlooks from the Energy Information Administration and from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries have lent support to the view of a tightening market. Coupled with the inability of increasing US supply to gain access to the global oil market, we would concur that prices could remain relatively sticky.”

On the other hand, he said the geopolitical risk premium added to crude prices likely will decline if tensions are reduced in the Middle East and North Africa.

Energy prices

The March contract for benchmark US light, sweet crudes lost $1.45 to $95.86/bbl Feb. 15 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The April contract dropped $1.49 to $96.41/bbl. On the US spot market, West Texas Intermediate at Cushing, Okla., was down $1.45 to match the $95.86/bbl close of the front-month futures contract.

Heating oil for March delivery declined 1.33¢ to $3.21/gal on NYMEX. Reformulated stock for oxygenate blending for the same month continued climbing, however, up 1.79¢ to $3.13/gal.

The March natural gas contract decreased 1¢ to $3.15/MMbtu on NYMEX. On the US spot market, gas at Henry Hub, La., fell 7.9¢ to $3.21/MMbtu.

In London, the April IPE contract for North Sea Brent was down 34¢ to $117.66/bbl. Gas oil for March lost $8.25 to $1,003/tonne.

The average price for OPEC’s basket of 12 benchmark crudes dropped 44¢ to $114.23/bbl. So far this year, OPEC’s basket price has averaged $110.80/bbl.

Contact Sam Fletcher at samf@ogjonline.com.

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