MARKET WATCH: NYMEX crude oil futures drop below $98/bbl

Natural gas futures prices on Dec. 11 closed at their highest level since Apr. 30 on the New York market while crude oil futures for January dropped by more than $1/bbl.

Analysts correctly anticipated a large draw of US natural gas in storage. Cold weather in recent weeks has boosted gas demand for heating purposes, causing an escalation in gas prices.

On Dec. 12, the Energy Information Administration’s weekly report estimated 3.53 tcf working gas in storage for the week ended Dec. 6. This represents a net decline of 81 bcf from the previous week. Stocks were 273 bcf less than last year at this time and 109 bcf below the 5-year average of 3.64 tcf.

Meanwhile, oil traders and analysts focused on rising US oil production statistics rather than on a weekly EIA crude oil inventory report released Dec. 11.

EIA’s weekly petroleum statistics report showed US crude oil inventories, excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, fell 10.6 million bbl to 375.2 million bbl for the week ended Dec. 6. It marked the largest weekly decline since the week ended Dec. 28, 2012. EIA also reported a climb in weekly gasoline and distillate supplies.

US refiners boosted crude oil throughputs last week to their highest levels since mid-July, EIA said. Refinery inputs of crude oil rose for a ninth consecutive week to average more than 16 million b/d overall for the week ended Dec. 6 (OGJ Online, Dec. 22, 2013).

Energy prices

The New York Mercantile Exchange January crude contract declined $1.07 on Dec. 11 to close at $97.44/bbl. The February contract dropped 94¢ to settle at $97.42/bbl.

Heating oil for January delivery edged up 0.4¢ to remain at a rounded $3.02/gal on NYMEX. Reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenate blending for January delivery dropped 2¢ to a rounded $2.66/gal.

The January natural gas contract on NYMEX was up 10¢, settling at a rounded $4.34/MMbtu. On the US spot market, the gas price at Henry Hub, La., was a rounded $4.23/MMbtu, an 8.8¢ decline.

In London, the January ICE contract for Brent crude oil rose 32¢, closing at $109.70/bbl. The ICE gas oil contract for December climbed $4 to settle at $932/tonne.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ basket of 12 benchmark crudes closed at $106.81/bbl on Dec. 11, down 2¢.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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