MARKET WATCH: Crude oil future prices drop on New York market pending weekly reports

Crude oil futures prices dropped modestly on the New York market on Dec. 18 while analysts awaited the weekly release of US oil and product reports, which confirmed another decline in crude oil inventories.

The US Energy Information Administration’s Dec. 18 petroleum report showed commercial crude oil inventories, excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, decreased by 2.9 million bbl for the week ended Dec. 13 compared with the previous week.

At 372.3 million bbl, US crude oil inventories still are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year, EIA said.

Separately, the American Petroleum Institute said its own weekly estimate showed the crude oil inventory fell by 2.5 million bbl for the week ended Dec. 13.

EIA said total motor gasoline inventories increased by 1.3 million bbl for the week ended Dec. 13, and that is above the upper limit of the average range. Finished gasoline inventories decreased while blending components inventories increased last week.

Distillate fuel inventories decreased by 2.1 million bbl and are below the lower limit of the average range for this time of year. Propane-propylene inventories fell 2.7 million bbl last week and are well below the lower limit of the average range.

Meanwhile regarding world oil markets, UK and US officials said earlier this week that they will not relax sanctions against Iran.

Morgan Stanley analysts issued a research note saying “an agreement to significantly lift [Iran’s oil] exports above 1 million b/d is unlikely in 2014.”

Energy prices

The New York Mercantile Exchange January crude contract declined 26¢ to close at $97.22/bbl on Dec. 17. The February contract dropped 30¢ to settle at $97.47/bbl.

Heating oil for January delivery declined 2.73¢, settling at a rounded $2.96/gal. Reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenate blending for January delivery climbed 0.35¢ to a rounded $2.65/gal.

The January natural gas contract on NYMEX rose less than a penny to settle at a rounded $4.29/MMbtu. On the US spot market, the gas price at Henry Hub, La., declined 3.7¢ to a rounded $4.21/MMbtu.

In London, the February ICE contract for Brent crude oil declined 97¢, closing at $108.44/bbl. The ICE gas oil contract for January dipped by $12 to settle at $919.50/tonne.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ basket of 12 benchmark crudes closed at $106.57/bbl on Dec. 17, down 35¢.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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