MARKET WATCH: Crude oil futures rise on Libya, Ukraine concerns

Crude oil futures prices reached a 5-week high on the New York market Apr. 9 amid continued uncertainty about apparent delays in an anticipated resumption of Libyan oil exports and continued political uncertainty regarding Ukraine, analysts said.

In eastern Libya, government officials said they had gained control of one oil export terminal from rebels with first shipments possible as early as Apr. 13. But rebels remained in control of three other oil export terminals.

Regarding Ukraine, additional Western economic sanctions reportedly are possible in coming weeks against Russia for annexing Crimea. The European Union and the US already imposed some sanctions aimed at Russian business executives and Russian officials linked with President Vladimir Putin.

Trading on international oil markets showed the price spread between US light, sweet crude futures and Brent crude futures narrowed to about $4/bbl on Apr. 10, marking the narrowest gap between the two benchmark prices since September 2013.

On Apr. 9, the US Energy Information Administration said crude oil inventories rose by 4 million bbl for the week ended Apr. 4. The gain was four times what analysts had expected, and they attributed it to a surge in imports following the reopening of the Houston Ship Channel in late March.

HSC was closed for several days while crews cleaned up a fuel oil spill after a collision (OGJ Online, Mar. 24, 2014).

EIA on Apr. 10 reported working gas in underground storage in the Lower 48 was an estimated 826 bcf as of Apr. 4. That level marked a net increase of 4 bcf from the previous week. Stocks were 849 bcf lower than for the same period last year and 997 bcf below the 5-year average of 1.823 tcf, EIA said in its weekly gas storage report.

Energy prices

The New York Mercantile Exchange May crude oil contract price rose $1.04 on Apr. 9, closing at $103.60/bbl. The June contract climbed 84¢ to $102.65/bbl.

The May natural gas contract gained 5.2¢ to a rounded $4.59/MMbtu. The Henry Hub cash price for gas was unavailable on Apr. 9.

Heating oil for May delivery climbed 1.96¢ to a rounded $2.95/gal. Reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenate blending for May delivery increased 2.8¢ to a rounded $3.01/gal.

In London, the May ICE contract for Brent crude delivery gained 31¢, closing at $107.98/bbl. The June contract was up 33¢ to $107.95/bbl. The ICE gas oil contract for April climbed $12.75 to $903.50/tonne.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries reported its basket of 12 benchmark crudes for Apr. 9 was $104.22/bbl, up $1.06 from the previous trading session.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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