MARKET WATCH: NYMEX oil climbs back above $100/bbl

Crude oil futures on the New York market climbed above $100/bbl for the first time in a week on Mar. 26. The momentum continued in early Mar. 27 trading as two US government agencies issued positive economic indicators that could mean higher oil demand, analysts said.

The US Department of Labor said the number of new claims for jobless benefits fell to a seasonally adjusted 311,000 last week. Meanwhile, the US Department of Commerce said US gross domestic product rose at a rate of 2.6%/year during the fourth quarter, higher than its previous 2.4%/year estimate for that period.

Separately on Mar. 27, the US Energy Information Agency issued its weekly underground gas storage report. Working gas in storage was 896 bcf as of Mar. 21, marking was a 57 bcf net decline from the previous week.

Gas storage levels were 899 bcf lower than for the same period last year and 926 bcf below the 5-year average of 1.82 tcf, EIA said.

Meanwhile, oil spill response teams established a Matagorda Bay Forward Branch in Port O’Connor, Tex., to coordinate protection efforts for the Matagorda Bay area.

The US Coast Guard said part of the marine fuel oil spilled Mar. 22 in a ship-barge collision near Texas City, Tex., was moving south along the Gulf of Mexico coast.

USCG, Texas General Land Office, and Kirby Inland Marine—the owner of the barge from which the oil was spilled—said they implemented plans to protect environmentally sensitive areas from oil. Boom was being placed along the coast of Matagorda Island, including Sundown Island.

Floating oil was reported 15 miles off Matagorda Island, and forecasters said weather is likely to push that oil toward shore during the next 48 hr.

Energy prices

The New York Mercantile Exchange May crude oil contract rose $1.07 on Mar. 26, closing at $100.26/bbl, while the June contract climbed $1 to settle at $99.53/bbl.

The April natural gas contract was down nearly 1¢ to a rounded $4.40/MMbtu. On the cash gas market, the Henry Hub price for Mar. 26 was unavailable.

Heating oil for April delivery was down 0.2¢ to remain at a rounded $2.92/gal, the same settlement price as Mar. 25. Reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenate blending for April delivery increased 2.6¢ to a rounded $2.91/gal.

In London, the May ICE contract for Brent crude delivery gained 4¢, closing at $107.03/bbl. The June contract rose 11¢ to $106.92/bbl. The ICE gas oil contract for April dropped $7.75 to $893.25/tonne.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries reported its basket of 12 benchmark crudes was $103.62/bbl on Mar. 26, up 23¢.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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