MARKET WATCH: NYMEX crude futures dip as analysts await oil inventory gain

Crude oil futures prices dropped by more than $1/bbl on the New York market on May 28 as analysts correctly anticipated an increase in the US crude oil inventory, which rebounded from an unexpected drop the previous week.

The Energy Information Administration said US commercial crude oil inventories, excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, rose 1.7 million bbl for the week ended May 23 compared with the previous week.

At 393 million bbl, US crude oil inventories are in the upper half of the average range for this time of year, EIA said in its weekly petroleum report, which was issued one day later than normal because of the Memorial Day holiday on May 26 in the US.

The overall crude stockpile had dropped unexpectedly for the week ended May 16, which analysts attributed to imports at the lowest weekly level since January 1997. For the week ended May 16, the crude estimate was 391.3 million bbl, nearing a record 399.4 million bbl set for the week ended Apr. 25.

On May 29, EIA also issued its weekly gas report for estimated working gas in underground storage in the Lower 48.

The agency estimated gas in storage at 1.38 tcf as of May 23, which was a net increase of 114 bcf from the previous week. Stocks were 748 bcf less than last year at this time and 922 bcf below the 5-year average of 2.3 tcf.

Gasoline inventory declines

Total US motor gasoline inventories decreased 1.8 million bbl last week, and are in the middle of the average range, EIA said in its petroleum report. Both finished gasoline inventories and blending components inventories decreased last week.

Distillate fuel inventories decreased 200,000 bbl and are below the lower limit of the average range for this time of year. Propane-propylene inventories gained 2.2 million bbl and are in the middle of the average range.

US refinery inputs averaged 15.9 million b/d during the week ended May 23, which was 98,000 b/d lower than the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 89.9% of capacity.

Gasoline production decreased last week, averaging more than 9.5 million b/d. Distillate fuel production decreased slightly last week, averaging 5 million b/d.

US crude oil imports averaged 7.8 million b/d last week, up more than 1.3 million b/d from the previous week. Over the last 4 weeks, crude oil imports averaged 7.1 million b/d, 9.3% below the same 4-week period last year.

Total motor gasoline imports, including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components, last week averaged 725,000 b/d while distillate fuel imports averaged 148,000 b/d.

Energy prices

The New York Mercantile Exchange July crude oil contract price dipped $1.39, closing at $102.72/bbl on May 28. The August contract dropped $1.19 to $101.99/bbl.

The June natural gas contract rose 11¢ to a rounded $4.62/MMbtu.

Heating oil for June delivery declined almost a penny to a rounded $2.93/gal. Reformulated gasoline blendstock gained 1¢ to a rounded $3/gal. Gasoline demand is expected to rise during the busy summer-driving season, the start of which was Memorial Day.

In London, the July ICE contract for Brent crude delivery was down 21¢, closing at $109.81/bbl on May 28. The August contract decreased 21¢ to settle at $109.11/bbl. The ICE gas oil contract for August dropped $8.50 to $903.50/tonne.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ Secretariat office was closed on May 29, making a recent price for OPEC’s basket of 12 benchmark crudes unavailable.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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