MARKET WATCH: NYMEX prices climb ahead of US oil supply drop

Crude oil prices rose modestly on the New York market Aug. 26 ahead of the weekly government oil inventory report while analysts correctly anticipated a drop in US oil and product supplies although the statistics showed a bigger decline than expected.

The Energy Information Administration estimated commercial crude oil inventories, excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, decreased by 2.1 million bbl for the week ended Aug. 22 from the previous week.

At 360.5 million bbl. crude oil inventories are in the upper half of the average range for this time of year, EIA said in its weekly petroleum status report. Separately, the American Petroleum Institute said its own estimate showed US oil stocks fell by 1.3 million bbl for the week ended Aug. 22.

Analysts surveyed by the Wall Street Journal said they expected an inventory drop of 900,000 bbl.

EIA reported that refinery inputs averaged more than 16.5 million b/d during the week ended Aug. 22, which was 124,000 b/d more than the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 93.5% of capacity last week.

Total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 1 million bbl, which EIA said was the middle of the average range. Finished gasoline inventories increased while blending components inventories decreased last week.

Distillate fuel inventories increased by 1.3 million bbl, and EIA said that level was below the lower limit of the average range for this time of year.

Propane-propylene inventories rose 1.9 million bbl for the week ended Aug. 22. Levels are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year, EIA said.

Gasoline production increased last week, averaging over 9.5 million b/d. Distillate fuel production increased, averaging over 4.9 million b/d.

US crude oil imports averaged over 7.6 million b/d, up 174,000 b/d from the previous week. During the last 4 weeks, crude oil imports averaged more than 7.6 million b/d, which was 5.1% below the same 4-week period last year.

Total motor gasoline imports, including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components, last week averaged 448,000 b/d, and distillate fuel imports averaged 77,000 b/d.

Energy prices

The New York Mercantile Exchange October crude oil contract increased 51¢ on Aug. 26, closing at $93.86/bbl. The November contract was up 48¢ to $93.36/bbl.

The natural gas contract for September fell 2.6¢ to a rounded $3.91/MMbtu. On the US cash market, gas at Henry Hub, La., was up 2¢ to $3.94/MMbtu.

Heating oil for September delivery edged up less than a penny to remain at a rounded $2.84/gal. Reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenate blending for September delivery was up 1.3¢ to a rounded $2.76/gal.

The October ICE contract for Brent crude delivery dropped 15¢ to $102.50/bbl. The November contract declined 10¢ to $103.26/bbl. The ICE gas oil contract for September rose $4.25 to $864.25/tonne.

The average price for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ basket of 12 benchmark crudes was $99.82/bbl on Aug. 26, up 73¢.

Contract Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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