MARKET WATCH: Crude oil falls below $100/bbl on NYMEX Oct 21

Crude oil prices settled below $100/bbl on the New York market Oct. 21 for the first time since July 1 while Brent prices on the London market declined modestly on Oct. 21 before gaining renewed strength in Oct. 22.

BP PLC reported 400,000 b/d flows through the UK North Sea Forties pipeline system despite a shutdown at Grangemouth refinery, which provides steam power to run the pipeline system.

BP operates the Forties pipeline. Refinery operator Ineos is negotiating with labor unions about plant cost reductions. Ineos Group Holdings Inc. bought BP’s petrochemical subsidiary Innovene and took over the Grangemouth, Scotland, and Lavera, France, refining and petrochemical complexes (OGJ Online, Oct. 7, 2005).

The US Energy Information Administration, which resumed operations Oct. 17, has released its weekly petroleum inventory numbers for Oct. 11. EIA was scheduled Oct. 23 to release figures for the week ended Oct. 18.

For the week ended Oct. 11, EIA said US commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) increased by 4 million bbl from the previous week. At 374.5 million bbl, crude oil inventories are above the upper range for this time of year.

Total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 2.6 million bbl, but are near the top of the average range. Finished gasoline inventories and gasoline blending component inventories both decreased. Distillate fuel inventories decreased by 1.8 million bbl and remain near the lower limit of the average range for this time of year. Propane and propylene inventories were unchanged and are in the middle of the average range.

Total products supplied over the last 4-week period averaged 19 million b/d. Over the last 4 weeks, motor gasoline product supplied averaged about 8.8 million b/d. Distillate fuel product supplied averaged 3.7 million b/d over the last 4 weeks.

US refinery inputs averaged about 14.9 million b/d for the week ended Oct. 11, which was 37,000 b/d lower than the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 86.2% of capacity for the week ended Oct. 11.

Gasoline production rose, averaging 9.3 million b/d for the week ended Oct. 11 while distillate fuel production increased to about 4.8 million b/d.

Crude oil imports averaged about 8 million b/d for the week ended Oct. 11, EIA said, noting that was down by 39,000 b/d from the previous week. Over the last 4 weeks, crude oil imports averaged 8.1 million b/d, 0.2% above the same 4-week period last year.

Energy prices

The New York Mercantile Exchange November crude contract fell $1.59/bbl on Oct. 21, settling at $99.22/bbl. The December contract dropped $1.43 to settle at $99.68/bbl.

Heating oil for November delivery declined by a rounded 2.5¢ to a rounded $3.01/gal on NYMEX. Reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenate blending for November fell 1.9¢ to a rounded $2.65/gal.

The November natural gas contract gave up 9.6¢ to a rounded $3.67/MMbtu on NYMEX while the December contract decreased by 10.4¢ to settle at a rounded $3.79/MMbtu. On the US spot market, the gas price at Henry Hub, La., was a rounded $3.77/MMbtu, up by 5¢.

In London, the December ICE contract for Brent crude oil fell 30¢, settling at $109.64/bbl. The November contract for ICE gas oil rose $2.25 to $941.50/tonne.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries basket of 12 benchmark crudes was $106.76/bbl on Oct. 18, up 22¢.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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