MARKET WATCH: Crude oil prices mixed on likely Libyan exports, Ukraine talks

Brent crude oil prices climbed above $109/bbl on the London market Apr. 16 while crude oil prices gained only marginally on the New York market as world oil markets received mixed signals from international political news, analysts noted.

Tensions regarding a dispute between Ukraine and Russia appear to be driving prices higher on worries of a possible supply disruption from Russia, but the possible return of Libyan crude oil exports could dampen world oil prices.

An anticipated crude export shipment from Libya reportedly was being loaded at the port of Hariga this week. Disputes about labor and oil ownership have halted shipments from some eastern Libyan ports since last year.

If an oil shipment departs Hariga as expected on Apr. 17, it would be the first oil cargo since July 2013.

Meanwhile in Ukraine, three pro-Russian protesters died and 13 others were wounded in a clash between protesters and the Ukraine military.

Russian President Vladimir Putin accused government officials in Kiev of “a serious crime” by sending troops to eastern Ukraine. But officials in Kiev and Washington, DC, question if Russia supports violence by protesters taking over Ukraine government buildings.

Meanwhile, diplomats from Russia, Ukraine, the US, and the European Union met in Geneva for discussions about how to ease tensions between Kiev and Moscow.

The US Energy Information Administration issued in its weekly natural gas storage report Apr. 17, saying estimated working gas in Lower 48 underground storage was 850 bcf as of Apr. 11, marking a net increase of 24 bcf from the previous week.

Stocks were 850 bcf lower than last year at this time and 1 tcf below the 5-year average of 1.86 tcf, EIA said.

Energy prices

The New York Mercantile Exchange May crude oil contract price nudged up 1¢ on Apr. 16, closing at $103.76/bbl. The June contract increased 3¢ to $103.3/bbl.

Heating oil for May delivery climbed 2.36¢ to a rounded $3.01/gal. Reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenate blending for May delivery edged up only 0.16¢ to hold steady at a rounded $3.04/gal.

The May natural gas contract declined 3.7¢ to a rounded $4.53/MMbtu.

In London, the June ICE contract for Brent crude delivery rose 24¢, closing at $109.60/bbl. The July contract closed at $109.25/bbl, increasing 22¢. The ICE gas oil contract for May increased $7.50 to $925.25/tonne.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries reported its basket of 12 benchmark crudes for Apr. 16 was $106.06/bbl, a gain of 85¢. OPEC’s offices will be closed Apr. 18 and Apr. 21.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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