MARKET WATCH: Crude oil prices rise on supply concerns

Crude oil futures prices rose on the New York and London markets during Feb. 24 trading, which analysts attributed to international political risks and supply reductions in some producing countries combined with a US tightness of petroleum products while refineries conduct seasonal maintenance.

Natural gas prices dropped below $6/MMbtu on the New York market, and traders noted the March futures contract is scheduled to expire Feb. 26. The pending expiration apparently had more influence on gas prices than did forecasts for more cold weather.

Last week, gas prices spiked on weather concerns. Current forecasts call for colder-than-average temperatures across the central and eastern US for 6-10 days and possibly stretching into mid-March.

PIRA Energy Group of New York issued a weekly recap of its analysis of the oil market fundamentals saying ongoing growth of shale continues to dominate both the oil and gas outlooks.

“Even with a slowdown in growth from the recent pace, shale will remain a major contributor to global liquids growth and the US will still face a steady decline in import requirements,” PIRA said. “However, we continue to face increasing violence in Iraq, significant outages in Libya coupled with political turmoil, sanctions and extremely uncertain negotiations with Iran, growing unrest in Venezuela, and an unending war in Syria that could spread violence anywhere in the Middle East.”

PIRA said a rebound of global demand growth in 2013 “confirms our view that reports of the death of demand growth are premature.”

Energy prices

The New York Mercantile Exchange April crude contract rebounded to start the week, climbing 62¢ on Feb. 24 to close at $102.82/bbl. The May contract gained 69¢ to settle at $102.06/bbl.

Heating oil for March delivery was down 1.2¢ to a rounded $3.09/gal. Reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenate blending for March delivery was virtually unchanged to remain at a rounded $2.83/gal.

The March natural gas contract on NYMEX dipped 69¢ to a rounded $5.45/MMbtu. On the US spot market, the gas price at Henry Hub, La. was a rounded $6.28/MMbtu, climbing 7.5¢.

In London, the April ICE contract for Brent crude delivery gained 79¢, closing at $110.64/bbl, setting a high for 2014. The May contract rose 72¢ to 110.20/bbl. The ICE gas oil contract for March climbed $4.50 to $934.25/tonne.

The Organizational of Petroleum Exporting Countries reported its basket of 12 benchmark crudes was $106.70/bbl on Feb. 24, up 2¢.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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