MARKET WATCH: Crude oil futures prices gain traction amid Iraqi strife

Crude oil futures prices gained traction Aug. 7 just as news of rebels belonging to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, were seizing more land in the vicinity of Kurdistan, “coming unsettlingly close to a number of oil projects and prompting some international companies to evacuate,” said analysts with Raymond James & Associates Inc.

US President Barack Obama, in response, authorized the use of military airstrikes against ISIS in northern Iraq.

RJA analysts maintained, “To be clear, we are aware of only one physical oil supply disruption thus far resulting from the ongoing violence: Afren today shut down a very small field, producing less than 800 b/d. It is also important to underscore that Kurdistan has limited production currently (about 200,000 b/d).” They said this compares with the 2.5 million b/d in the far south of Iraq, near the Persian Gulf, “which is far away from where the fighting is.”

Energy prices

The New York Mercantile Exchange September crude oil contract increased 42¢ on Aug. 7, a day after the front-month commodity’s lowest settlement since February, closing at $97.34/bbl. The October contract gained 45¢ to $96.69/bbl.

The natural gas contract for September fell 5.7¢ to a rounded $3.88/MMbtu. On the US cash market, gas at Henry Hub, La., was $3.97/MMbtu, rising 8¢.

Heating oil for September delivery edged up 1.96¢ to a rounded $2.90/gal. Reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenate blending for September delivery gained 3.26¢ to a rounded $2.77/gal.

The September ICE contract for Brent crude delivery climbed 85¢ to $105.44/bbl. The October contract gained 81¢ to $106.08/bbl. The ICE gas oil contract for August edged up 75¢ to $879.50/tonne.

The average price for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ basket of 12 benchmark crudes was $102.23/bbl on Aug. 7, gaining back the 18¢ it lost the previous day.

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