MARKET WATCH: NYMEX crude oil drops below $100/bbl on higher Libyan production

Crude oil prices dropped nearly $1/bbl on both the New York and London markets in July 15 trading with oil settling on the New York market at under $100/bbl on reports that Libya’s oil production was growing faster than expected.

Libya’s National Oil Corp. said the nation’s oil production had reached 600,000 b/d, and analysts noted that level remained well below previous production of 1.6 million b/d.

Production climbed recently after the Libyan government reached a deal with rebels to reopen most eastern ports that had been blocked.

The oil production ramp-up largely stems from resumption of operations in Sharara, the country’s largest field, which is reportedly producing about 250,000 b/d compared with its normal capacity of 340,000 b/d.

Still violence continued on July 13 in Tripoli, where fighting between rival militias resulted in at least 6 deaths and 25 people injured.

In Vienna, US and Iranian officials said they made progress on talks regarding Iran’s nuclear program. Analysts noted an agreement could trigger the eventual lifting of sanctions on Iran’s oil exports, which would add more oil to world supply.

Regarding US oil supplies, the Energy Information Administration estimated crude oil inventories, excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, decreased 7.5 million bbl for the week ended July 11 compared with the previous week.

At 375 million bbl, crude oil inventories are near the upper limit of the average range for this time of year, EIA said in its weekly petroleum status report. Analysts surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected a decline of 2.6 million bbl.

Separately, the American Petroleum Institute said its inventory showed oil supplies fell 4.8 million bbl.

Gasoline inventories grow

Total motor gasoline inventories increased 200,000 bbl for the week ended July 11, and EIA said that level was in the middle of the average range. Finished gasoline inventories decreased while blending components inventories increased.

Distillate fuel inventories increased 2.5 million bbl and are near the lower limit of the average range for this time of year. Propane-propylene inventories rose 3.2 million bbl, which EIA said was near the upper limit of the average range.

US refinery inputs averaged 16.6 million b/d during the week ended July 11, which was 374,000 b/d higher than the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 93.8% of capacity last week.

Gasoline production decreased, averaging 9.1 million b/d, and distillate fuel production increased, averaging 5.2 million b/d.

US crude oil imports averaged 7.4 million b/d for the week ended July 11, up 142,000 b/d from the previous week. Over the last 4 weeks, crude oil imports averaged 7.3 million b/d, 5.2% below the same 4-week period last year.

Total motor gasoline imports, including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components, last week averaged 615,000 b/d while distillate imports averaged 68,000 b/d.

Energy prices

The New York Mercantile Exchange August crude oil contract dropped 95¢ on July 15, closing at $99.96/bbl. The September contract also fell 95¢ to $99.53/bbl.

The natural gas contract for August declined 5¢ to a rounded $4.10/MMbtu. On the US cash market, gas at Henry Hub, La., was $4.11/MMbtu, up 1¢.

Heating oil for August delivery dropped 1.7¢ to a rounded $2.86/gal. Reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenate blending for August delivery declined 2.7¢ to a rounded $2.90/gal.

The August ICE contract for Brent crude delivery was down 96¢ to $106.02/bbl. The September contract declined 83¢ to $106.88/bbl. The ICE gas oil contract for August declined $9.75 to $873.50/tonne.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ basket of 12 benchmark crudes for July 15 was $103.65/bbl, down 49¢.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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