MARKET WATCH: NYMEX crude oil, gasoline futures rise on Arctic blast

Oil, heating oil, and gasoline futures prices rose on the New York market Jan. 7 amid frigid temperatures across the Midwest and part of the East Coast that caused some refineries to restart certain process units.

Valero Energy Corp.'s 195,000-b/d refinery at Memphis, Tenn., reportedly had some temporary equipment problems because of the cold weather. ExxonMobil Corp.’s 240,000-b/d refinery outside Joliet, Ill., also had some cold-related equipment problems this week but operated normally on Jan. 7.

Marathon Petroleum Corp.’s 120,000-b/d Detroit refinery has restarted several units because low temperatures caused a loss of instrument air.

Regarding world oil markets, Citibank analyst Tim Evans of New York said in a research note that Brent crude oil prices remain vulnerable to a resumption of higher oil production in Libya.

“We continue to see a higher Libyan production as adding to a likely first half 2014 supply-demand surplus that could pressure other [Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries] members to trim output,” Evans said.

The US Energy Information Administration on Jan. 8 reported commercial crude oil inventories, excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, decreased by 2.7 million bbl for the week ended Jan. 3 compared with the previous week.

At 357.9 million bbl, US crude oil inventories still are near the upper limit of the average range for this time of year, EIA said. Total motor gasoline inventories increased by 6.2 million bbl last week, and total gasoline inventories are in the lower half of the average range.

Both finished gasoline inventories and blending components inventories increased last week. Distillate fuel inventories increased by 5.8 million bbl last week but still remain below the lower limit of the average range for this time of year. Propane-propylene inventories fell 3.5 million bbl, keeping stocks well below the lower limit of the average range, EIA said.

US refinery inputs averaged over 16.1 million b/d during the week ended Jan. 3, which was 113,000 b/d lower than the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 92.3% of capacity last week.

Crude oil imports averaged 8 million b/d for the week ended Jan. 3, which EIA said was up by 466,000 b/d from the previous week. Over the last 4 weeks, crude oil imports averaged 7.7 million b/d, 3.6% below the same 4-week period last year.

Energy prices

The New York Mercantile Exchange February crude contract was up 24¢ on Jan. 7, closing at $93.67/bbl. The March contract added 26¢ to settle at $93.84/bbl.

Heating oil for February delivery gained 2.05¢ to a rounded $2.96/gal. Reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenate blending for February delivery also jumped, climbing 3.26¢ to a rounded $2.68/gal.

The February natural gas contract on NYMEX was down by 0.7¢, settling at a rounded $4.30/MMbtu. On the US spot market, the Jan. 7 gas price at Henry Hub gained 3.1¢ to settle at $4.53/MMbtu.

In London, the February ICE contract for Brent crude oil climbed 62¢ to close at $107.35/bbl. The March ICE contract for Brent was up 57¢, settling at $106.99/bbl. The ICE gas oil contract for January gained 25¢ to $910.50/tonne.

OPEC’s basket of 12 benchmark crudes for Jan. 7 was $104.58/bbl, up 18¢ from the Jan. 6 settlement.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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