MARKET WATCH: Oil prices on New York market climb by more than $1/bbl

Reports indicating a likelihood of increased Libyan oil exports sent Brent crude oil prices sharply down on the London market during Dec. 10 trading before the Brent contract closed flat, and oil prices on the New York market climbed more than $1/bbl on expectations of another US oil inventory decline.

Naji Mukhtar, a member of Libya’s General National Congress, told reporters that a meeting with tribes in Eastern Libya ended with an agreement calling for an oil exports committee. The oil ports of Brega, Es-Sider, Marsa al-Hariga, and Zueitina ports are scheduled to reopen Dec. 15 after being closed for about 4 months by protesters demanding more regional control of Libya’s oil revenues.

Some observers suggest the agreement could fall through. News of the agreement sent Brent crude prices plunging, but the January contract rebounded on the London market by closing.

Libyan militia leader Ibrahim al-Jathran confirmed an agreement during an interview with Al-Nabaa Television. He said conditions include creation of an independent judicial committee to review oil revenues and the establishment of an oil exports commission.

In the US, the Energy Information Administration said commercial crude oil inventories, excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, decreased by 10.6 million bbl from the week ended Dec. 6.

Crude oil inventories were estimated at 375.2 million bbl, which EIA said was above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.

Separately, the American Petroleum Institute said its inventory report showed the oil inventory dropped by 7.5 million bbl.

Gasoline inventories

EIA said total motor gasoline inventories increased by 6.7 million bbl for the week ended Dec. 6, and gasoline inventories were above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.

Both finished gasoline inventories and blending components inventories increased. Distillate fuel inventories increased by 4.5 million bbl, which was the lower limit of the average range. Propane-propylene inventories fell 1.7 million bbl, well below the lower limit of the average range.

US refinery inputs averaged over 16.1 million b/d, which was 25,000 b/d higher than the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 92.6% of operable capacity for the week ended Dec. 6.

Gasoline production increased slightly last week, averaging 9 million b/d. Distillate fuel production increased last week, averaging 5.3 million b/d, EIA said.

US crude oil imports averaged 6.9 million b/d, down by 947,000 b/d from the previous week. Over the last 4 weeks, crude oil imports averaged 7.6 million b/d. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) averaged 671,000 b/d. Distillate fuel imports averaged 85,000 b/d.

Energy prices

The New York Mercantile Exchange January crude contract rallied on Dec. 10, climbing by $1.17 to close at $98.51/bbl. The February contract rose $1.10 to settle at $98.66/bbl.

Heating oil for January delivery edged up by 0.3¢ to settle at a rounded $3.02/gal on NYMEX. Reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenate blending for January delivery rose 0.8¢ to a rounded $2.68/gal.

The January natural gas contract on NYMEX was up 0.5¢, settling at a rounded $4.24/MMbtu. On the US spot market, the gas price at Henry Hub, La., was a rounded $4.31/MMbtu, an 8.5¢ rise.

In London, the January ICE contract for Brent crude oil edged down by 1¢, closing at $109.38/bbl. The ICE gas oil contract for December dropped $6.25 to settle at $928/tonne.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ basket of 12 benchmark crudes closed at $106.83/bbl on Dec. 10, declining 9¢.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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