MARKET WATCH: US crude prices drop for third day; natural gas rallies

Crude oil prices on the New York market declined for the third consecutive session Oct. 23, falling to their lowest level since June 28, and a US government inventory report showed another build in petroleum supplies, continuing a 5-week trend of rising stockpiles.

Inventories are building in part because refineries are processing less crude during routine seasonal maintenance.

The US Energy Information Administration said Oct. 23 that oil inventories reached their highest level since June, rising by 5.2 million bbl for the week ended Oct. 18 (OGJ Online, Oct. 23, 2013). EIA said commercial crude oil inventories (excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) reached 379.8 million bbl.

In a separate weekly report, the American Petroleum Institute said its inventory numbers show a 3 million bbl gain for the week ended Oct. 18 to a total of 375.4 million bbl.

Natural gas prices rallied on the New York market upon forecasts for colder temperatures in the Midwest and the Mid-Atlantic region, which would drive higher gas demand for heating homes.

In a report released Oct. 24, the EIA said gas in underground storage for the week ended Oct. 18 was 3,741 bcf, a net increase of 87 bcf from the previous week. Stocks were 92 bcf less than last year for the same period, EIA said, noting that the latest estimate was higher than the 5-year average of 3,664 bcf.

Energy prices

With expiration of the November crude contract New York Mercantile Exchange, the front-month December contract fell on Oct. 23 by $1.44, settling at $96.86/bbl. The January contract dropped $1.47 to settle at $97/bbl.

Heating oil for November delivery dropped by 7.4¢ to a rounded $2.92/gal on NYMEX. Reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenate blending for November fell 6.4¢ to a rounded $2.55/gal.

The November natural gas contract gained 3.8¢ to a rounded $3.62/MMbtu on NYMEX. On the US spot market, the gas price at Henry Hub, La., was a rounded $3.66/MMbtu, down by 3¢.

In London, the December ICE contract for Brent crude oil plunged $2.17, settling at $107.80/bbl. The November contract for ICE gas oil dropped $16.50 to $920/tonne.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries basket of 12 benchmark crudes edged down 43¢ to $106.34/bbl on Oct. 23.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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