MARKET WATCH: NYMEX oil futures prices stay flat pending crude inventory

Crude oil futures prices closed nearly flat on the New York market May 6 pending the release of the weekly petroleum inventory by the US Energy Information Administration, which showed an unexpected decrease from the previous week’s level although the nation’s total oil supply still remains high.

US commercial crude oil inventories, excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, decreased by an estimated 1.8 million bbl for the week ended May 2 compared with the week ended Apr. 25, EIA said on May 7.

The latest inventory showed 397.6 million bbl, which is above the average range for this time of year. Analysts surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected a rise of 1.2 million bbl.

Meanwhile, natural gas prices rose on NYMEX in May 6 trading after the EIA increased its forecast for the average 2014 gas price.

Gas supplies are likely to stay tight for months as a result of major draws in underground gas storage during the recent harsh winter. The agency forecast 2014 NYMEX gas prices will average $4.74/MMbtu.

The latest price forecast was up 6.8% from its April forecast last month. Stored gas levels were estimated at 980 bcf as of Apr. 25, half of the normal level for that time of year.

Gasoline inventories climb

Total motor gasoline inventories increased by 1.6 million bbl for the week ended May 2, which EIA described as being in the middle of the average range for this time of year. Finished gasoline inventories decreased while blending components inventories increased.

Distillate fuel inventories decreased by 400,000 bbl, putting them below the lower limit of the average range for this time of year. Propane-propylene inventories were up 3.7 million bbl for the week, but that level is in the lower half of the average range.

US refinery inputs averaged 15.9 million b/d during the week ended May 2, which EIA said was 50,000 b/d less than the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 90.2% of capacity.

Gasoline production increased, averaging 9 million b/d. Distillate fuel production increased last week, averaging over 5 million b/d.

Crude oil imports averaged 6.9 million b/d, which EIA said was down by 598,000 b/d from the previous week. Over the last 4 weeks, crude oil imports averaged 7.6 million b/d, 1.1% below the same 4-week period last year.

Total motor gasoline imports, including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components, for the week ended May 2 averaged 583,000 b/d while distillate fuel imports averaged 123,000 b/d, EIA said.

Energy prices

The New York Mercantile Exchange June crude oil contract price rose 2¢ on May 6, closing at $99.50/bbl. The July contract dropped 8¢ to settle at $98.65/bbl.

The June natural gas contract climbed 11.1¢ to a rounded $4.80/MMbtu.

Heating oil for June delivery fell by a rounded 1.9¢ to a rounded $2.89/gal. Reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenate blending for June delivery decreased 2.3¢ to a rounded $2.89/gal.

In London, the June ICE contract for Brent crude delivery dropped 66¢, closing at $107.06/bbl, which was the lowest settlement since Apr. 7. The July contract dropped 63¢ to settle at $106.49/bbl. The ICE gas oil contract for May was up $2.25 to $900.25/tonne.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ basket of 12 benchmark crudes was $104.35/bbl on May 5, increasing 10¢ from May 2.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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