MARKET WATCH: Natural gas, oil futures price climbs on US heating demand

Natural gas prices surged on the New York market on Feb. 4 as parts of the US experienced more winter weather while oil prices climbed awaiting the weekly government oil and product inventory numbers.

Snow storms and freezing temperatures in many parts of the country have boosted demand to fuel the heating of homes and businesses.

The Energy Information Administration on Feb. 5 estimated US commercial crude oil inventories, excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, increased by 400,000 bbl for the week ended Jan. 31 compared with the previous week.

Separately, the American Petroleum Institute reported US crude stockpiles rose 384,000 bbl to a total of 360.8 million bbl for the week ended Jan. 31.

EIA estimated total US crude oil inventories last week at 358.1 million bbl, marking the upper half of the average range for this time of year.

Total motor gasoline inventories increased by 500,000 bbl, which was well above the upper limit of the average range, EIA said. Finished gasoline inventories decreased while blending components inventories increased.

Distillate fuel inventories decreased by 2.4 million bbl and are well below the lower limit of the average range for this time of year. Propane-propylene inventories fell 800,000 bbl, which puts them below the lower limit of the average range.

EIA said refinery inputs averaged over 15 million b/d during the week ended Jan. 31, which was 368,000 b/d lower than the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 86.1% of capacity. Gasoline production decreased last week, averaging 8.8 million b/d.

Distillate fuel production also decreased for the week ended Jan. 31, averaging 4.6 million b/d, EIA said.

Crude oil imports averaged 6.9 million b/d last week, down by 1.2 million b/d from the previous week. Over the last 4 weeks, crude oil imports averaged over 7.3 million b/d, which was 6.5% below the same 4-week period last year.

Total motor gasoline imports, including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components, last week averaged 620,000 b/d. Distillate fuel imports averaged 313,000 b/d last week.

Energy prices

The New York Mercantile Exchange March crude contract closed Feb. 4 at $97.19/bbl, up 76¢. The April contract gained 74¢ to settle at $96.46/bbl.

Heating oil for March delivery decreased 2.46¢ to a rounded $2.98/gal. Reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenate blending for March delivery fell 0.38¢ to a rounded $2.60/gal.

The March natural gas contract on NYMEX gained 47¢ to a rounded $5.37/MMbtu. On the US spot market, the gas price at Henry Hub climbed 58¢, closing at a rounded $5.65/MMbtu.

In London, the March ICE contract for Brent crude delivery was down 26¢, closing at $105.78/bbl. The April Brent contract dropped 22¢ to $105.17/bbl. The ICE gas oil contract for February was up $3.25 to $906.25/tonne.

The Organizational of Petroleum Exporting Countries reported its basket of 12 benchmark crudes closed Feb. 4 unchanged from the previous day at $102.55/bbl.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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