MARKET WATCH: NYMEX crude oil futures settle under $102/bbl

Crude oil futures prices on the New York market dropped to their lowest level in more than 2 weeks, which analysts attributed partially to easing concerns about supply disruptions in Eastern Europe and partially to weekly US government inventory reports.

Analysts and traders continue to closely monitor evolving relations between Russia and the Ukraine. Meanwhile, Crimea’s Parliament voted to join the Russian Federation and plans a Mar. 16 referendum on whether to formally break away from Ukraine, media reports said Mar. 6.

The US Energy Information Administration on Mar. 5 reported an increase in overall crude oil inventories of 1.4 million bbl. Analysts surveyed by the Wall Street Journal before the report had said they expected to see a build of 1 million bbl.

Meanwhile, distillate inventories rose by 1.4 million bbl, EIA said (OGJ Online, Mar. 5, 2013). Analysts had told the Wall Street Journal that they expected distillate levels to decline by 1.1 million bbl.

Regarding natural gas storage, EIA on Mar. 6 estimated working gas in underground storage at 1.196 tcf as of Feb. 28, which was a net decline of 152 bcf from the previous week. Stocks were 908 bcf lower than last year at this time and 758 bcf below the 5-year average of 1.954 tcf.

Energy prices

The New York Mercantile Exchange crude oil contract for April delivery closed Mar. 5 at $101.45/bbl, down $1.88. The May contract declined $1.80 to settle at $100.88/bbl.

Heating oil for April delivery was down 4.8¢ to a rounded $2.99/gal. Reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenate blending for April delivery declined 4.5¢ to a rounded $2.94/gal.

The April natural gas contract on NYMEX dropped 14.4¢ to a rounded $4.52/MMbtu. On the US spot market, the gas price at Henry Hub was $6.50/MMbtu, down $1.28.

In London, the April ICE contract for Brent crude delivery gave up $1.54, closing at $107.76/bbl. The May contract declined $1.57 to $107.29/bbl. The ICE gas oil contract for March was down $7.75 to $911.75/tonne.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries reported its basket of 12 benchmark crudes was $105.24/bbl on Mar. 5, down $1.06.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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