MARKET WATCH: US crude futures fall on budget, debt ceiling uncertainties

Crude oil futures prices fell Oct. 7 in trading on the New York market as traders and analysts cited concerns about the budget stalemate in Washington, DC, and the possibility of a US debt default unless lawmakers raise the debt ceiling before an Oct. 17 deadline.

A partial US government shutdown entered its second week. Analysts attributed the New York Mercantile Exchange oil market downward price direction to political uncertainty fueled by weekend comments from House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).

Boehner said he refuses to bring up legislation to reopen the government or increase the country’s borrowing limit unless Democrats agree to broader talks regarding how to trim the deficit.

US President Barack Obama said on Oct. 7 that Boehner should allow a vote to reopen the government, and said he believed such a measure would pass.

Aside from politics, the oil and gas industry watched Tropical Storm Karen pass through the Gulf of Mexico without causing major production disruptions.

BP PLC and Marathon Oil Corp. each reported offshore employees returned to work Oct. 6 after having been evacuated as a precaution. In an Oct. 7 update, the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said about 35.08% of the gulf’s oil production, or 491,162 b/d, remained shut in and that 36.78% of gas production, or 1.4 bcfd, remained shut in as a result of storm precautions.

Energy prices

The NYMEX November crude contract declined 81¢ on Oct. 7 to settle at $103.03/bbl. The December contract dropped by 70¢ to $102.83/bbl.

Heating oil for November delivery gained 1¢ to a rounded $3.01/gal on NYMEX. Reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenate blending for November gained 1.85¢ to a rounded $2.63/gal.

The November natural gas contract increased 12.3¢ to a rounded $3.63/MMbtu on NYMEX. On the US spot market, the gas price at Henry Hub, La., was a rounded $3.58/MMbtu, up 3.8¢.

In London, the November IPE contract for North Sea Brent crude rose 22¢, settling at $109.68/bbl. The October contract for gas oil rose $3.75 to $926.25/tonne while the November contract climbed by $4.50 to $926/tonne.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries reported its basket of 12 benchmark crudes dropped 49¢ on Oct. 7 to $106.45/bbl.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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