MARKET WATCH: NYMEX gas prices decline on warmer forecasts

Natural gas prices continued a 2-day decline on the New York market on Oct. 30 upon forecasts calling for warm temperatures across the Midwest and Northeastern states while oil prices also declined on the New York market for lack of a clear signal about a US economic stimulus program.

The Federal Reserve concluded its 2-day policy meeting Oct. 30, but officials released no clear statement about when the Fed might begin tapering $85 billion/month bond-buying program.

The New York Mercantile Exchange November natural gas contract expired Oct. 29, reaching that contract’s lowest price since Sept. 25. November gas prices fell 7.3¢ to settle at $3.496/MMbtu (OGJ, Online, Oct. 30, 2013).

Brent closed Oct. 30 at $13.09 above the benchmark light, sweet US crude, marking the widest gap since April. Analysts attribute Brent’s strength to supply concerns about Middle Eastern producers.

Meanwhile, analysts say New York oil prices have been on the decline because of robust US petroleum and product inventory numbers. Inventories have grown while many refiners shut down or reduce operations for routine maintenance.

Regarding underground gas storage, the US Energy Information Administration reported Oct. 31 that estimated working gas in storage in the Lower 48 was 3.78 tcf for the week ended Oct. 25. This represented a net increase of 38 bcf from the previous week.

The Oct. 25 gas storage estimate was 120 bcf less than last year at this time and 58 bcf above the 5-year average of 3.72 tcf, EIA said.

Energy prices

The NYMEX December crude contract dipped by $1.43 on Oct. 30, settling at $96.77/bbl. The January 2014 contract declined $1.32 to $97.06/bbl.

Heating oil for December delivery rose by 1.45¢ to a rounded $2.98/gal on NYMEX. Reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenate blending for November delivery climbed 4.1¢ to a rounded $2.65/gal.

The December natural gas contract dropped just less than a penny to $3.62/MMbtu on NYMEX. On the US spot market, the gas price at Henry Hub, La., held steady at a rounded $3.57/MMbtu.

In London, the December ICE contract for Brent crude oil was up 85¢ to $109.86 while the January 2014 contract was up 95¢ to $109.48/bbl. The November contract for ICE gas oil rose $6.75 to $937.25/tonne.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said its basket of 12 benchmark crudes was down 5¢ to $106.31/bbl on Oct. 30. The OPEC Secretariat office was scheduled to be closed Nov. 1.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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