MARKET WATCH: Brent crude rises on latest Libyan unrest

Crude oil prices rose by more than $1/bbl on the London market on Nov. 13 amid reports of labor unrest in Libya while crude oil prices rose modestly on the New York market pending the release of the US government’s weekly inventory report, delayed a day because of the Nov. 11 Veterans Day holiday.

Libya’s oil industry has faced security concerns and labor unrest since civil war erupted there in 2011, triggering repeated worries about potential crude oil production disruptions.

On Nov. 13, the Associated Press reported Libyan protesters shut down a refinery in the eastern port city of Tobruk by blocking a road going to the facility. Protesters also reportedly blocked entrances to the offices of Arabian Gulf Oil Co., a branch of state-owned National Oil Corp.

AP reported the protests were triggered by Libya’s workers demanding jobs they claimed were promised for 1,000 people.

The US Energy Information Administration released a Short-Term Energy Outlook on Nov. 13, forecasting US fourth-quarter oil use will average 250,000 b/d above the same period last year to reach 18.7 million bbl in late-2013.

EIA forecast gasoline demand will rise 100,000 b/d from the same period for 2012 to reach a fourth-quarter average of 8.6 million b/d while distillate demand rises 190,000 b/d to 3.93 million b/d.

Inventory report

In the weekly inventory statistics released Nov. 14, EIA said US commercial crude oil inventories, excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, increased by 2.6 million bbl for the week ended Nov. 8 compared with the previous week. The most recent tally was 388.1 million bbl, which is above the upper range for this time of year.

Total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 800,000 bbl and are near the top of the average range. Finished gasoline inventories increased while gasoline blending component inventories decreased. Distillate fuel inventories decreased by 500,000 bbl and remain near the lower limit of the average range for this time of year. Propane-propylene inventories fell 1.3 million bbl and are in the lower portion of the average range.

Refinery inputs averaged about 15.4 million b/d during the week ended Nov. 8, which was 343,000 b/d higher than the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 88.7% capacity last week. Gasoline production rose from the previous week, averaging 9.4 million b/d. Distillate fuel production increased to 4.9 million b/d.

US crude oil imports averaged about 7.8 million b/d, up by 620,000 b/d from the previous week. Over the last 4 weeks, crude oil imports averaged 7.5 million b/d, 7.5% below the same 4-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) averaged 446,000 b/d while distillate fuel imports averaged 130,000 b/d.

Energy prices

The New York Mercantile Exchange December crude contract gained 84¢ on Nov. 13, settling at $93.88/bbl. The January 2014 contract climbed 97¢ to $94.49/bbl.

Heating oil for December delivery was up 4.45¢ to settle at a rounded $2.90/gal on NYMEX. Reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenate blending for December delivery rose 4.16¢ to a rounded $2.63/gal. The settlements for both heating oil and reformulated gasoline were the highest since Oct. 31.

The December natural gas contract on NYMEX was down 5.1¢ to settle at a rounded $3.57/MMbtu. On the US spot market, the gas price at Henry Hub, La., was a rounded $3.67/MMbtu, down 2.4¢.

In London, the December ICE contract for Brent crude oil gained $1.31 to settle at $107.12/bbl. The January 2014 contract climbed $1.35 to $106.89/bbl. The December contract for ICE gas oil was up $6.50 to $901.25/tonne. The November gas oil contract has expired.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries reported its basket of 12 benchmark crudes was $103.52/bbl on Nov. 13, down 8¢ from Nov. 12.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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