MARKET WATCH: NYMEX crude oil prices drop on high inventory numbers

Crude oil futures prices dropped modestly on the New York market on Apr. 23 following the release of a government report showing the highest oil inventory since the US Energy Information Administration began issuing weekly reports in August 1982.

EIA said crude oil supplies rose 3.5 million bbl to 397.7 million bbl total for the week ended Apr. 18 (OGJ Online, Apr. 23, 2014).

The Wall Street Journal reported that the inventory is the highest since May 1931 according to monthly data going back to 1920.

Ole Hansen, Saxo Bank head of Commodity Strategy, said a recent rally in US gasoline prices could be nearing its end. Gasoline prices have been driven by reduced inventories during seasonal refinery maintenance.

The EIA inventory report for the week ended Apr. 18 showed a smaller-than-expected reduction in gasoline inventories, Hansen said.

“This, combined with a sharp rise in refinery demand, could indicate that gasoline inventories could soon stabilize and remove some of the recent price support,” Hansen said in an Apr. 24 research note.

Separately, EIA said estimated natural gas in Lower 48 underground storage as of Apr. 18 was 899 bcf, a net increase of 49 bcf from Apr. 11.

The latest EIA gas storage report showed levels were 831 bcf lower than last year at this time and 1 tcf below the 5-year average of 1.9 tcf.

Energy prices

The New York Mercantile Exchange June crude oil contract price declined 31¢ to close at $101.44/bbl on Apr. 23. The July contract was down 27¢ to $100.85/bbl.

The May natural gas contract declined 0.9¢ to $4.73/MMbtu.

Heating oil for May delivery dropped 2¢ to a rounded $2.98/gal. Reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenate blending for May delivery decreased less than a cent to remain at a rounded $3.09/gal.

In London the June ICE contract for Brent crude delivery fell 16¢, closing at $109.11/bbl. The July contract dropped 14¢ to close at $108.84/bbl. The ICE gas oil contract for May dropped $2.75 to $918/tonne.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said for its basket of 12 benchmark crudes was $104.99/bbl on Apr. 23, down 20¢ from Apr. 22.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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