MARKET WATCH: NYMEX crude prices drop awaiting inventory report

Oil futures fell modestly on the New York market on Feb. 11 awaiting a weekly government inventory report of crude oil and products, and oil futures prices edged upward on the London market.

Analysts said market participants were reassured by Janet Yellen, new chair of the Federal Reserve, who discussed a continuation of ongoing US monetary policy when she spoke before the US House Financial Services Committee Feb. 11.

The US Energy Information Administration reported US commercial crude oil inventories, excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, increased 3.3 million bbl for the week ended Feb. 7 compared with the previous week.

At 361.4 million bbl, US crude oil inventories are in the upper half of the average range for this time of year, EIA said. Separately, the American Petroleum Institute estimated crude stockpiles up 2.1 million bbl for the week ended Feb. 7.

In international oil market news, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries forecast that 2014 world oil demand will grow slightly faster than it previously anticipated.

“World oil demand growth for 2013 was revised up by 30,000 b/d to stand at 1 million b/d, mainly based on upward revisions for OECD Americas and Europe,” OPEC said. “For 2014, world oil demand growth is expected to increase to around 1.1 million b/d, revised up by 50,000 b/d from the previous month.”

OPEC released its revised world oil estimates Feb. 11 in its monthly Oil Market Report.

In China, the customs service reported positive oil demand growth indicators, saying China imported a record 28.16 million tonnes of oil in January. The Wall Street Journal calculated that represented a 5.2% rise from China’s oil imports during December 2013.

Product inventories down

Total US motor gasoline inventories fell 1.9 million bbl for the week ended Feb. 7, EIA said, adding that this level is well above the upper limit of the average range. Both finished gasoline inventories and blending components inventories decreased last week.

Distillate fuel inventories decreased 700,000 bbl to a level that is well below the lower limit of the average range for this time of year, EIA said. Propane-propylene inventories fell 2.9 million bbl last week and are below the lower limit of the average range.

Refinery inputs averaged more than 15.2 million b/d during the week ended Feb. 7, which was 166,000 b/d higher than the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 87.1% of capacity last week.

Gasoline production increased last week, averaging about 8.9 million b/d. Distillate fuel production increased slightly last week, averaging 4.6 million b/d.

US crude oil imports averaged more than 7.9 million b/d for the week ended Feb. 7, up by more than 1 million b/d from the previous week. Over the last 4 weeks, crude oil imports averaged 7.6 million b/d, 1.5% below the same 4-week period last year.

Total motor gasoline imports, including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components, last week averaged 350,000 b/d, EIA said. Distillate fuel imports averaged 269,000 b/d last week.

Energy prices

Light, sweet crude for March delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange closed at $99.94/bbl, down 12¢ on Feb. 12. It was the commodity’s first decline after five consecutive trading sessions of price increases. The April contract closed at $99.44/bbl, which was unchanged from the previous day.

Heating oil for March delivery gained 3¢ to a rounded $3.03/gal. Reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenate blending for March delivery climbed 2.78¢ to a rounded $2.75/gal, marking its highest price this year.

The March natural gas contract on NYMEX rose 24.5¢ to a rounded $4.82/MMbtu. On the US spot market, the gas price at Henry Hub, La. was a rounded $7.62/MMbtu, rising 50¢.

In London, the March ICE contract for Brent crude delivery increased 5¢, closing at $108.68/bbl. The April ICE contract for Brent was up 22¢ to $108.18/bbl.

The ICE gas oil contract for February gained 50¢ to $921.50/tonne.

The Organizational of Petroleum Exporting Countries reported its basket of 12 benchmark crudes was $105.30/bbl on Feb. 11, down 22¢.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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