MARKET WATCHAnother tropical storm raises prices

July 13, 2005
Crude futures prices climbed above $60/bbl in the New York market on July 12 as Tropical Storm Emily gathered strength in the Atlantic.

Sam Fletcher
Senior Writer
HOUSTON, July 13 -- Crude futures prices climbed above $60/bbl in the New York market on July 12 as Tropical Storm Emily gathered strength in the Atlantic.

The National Hurricane Center said July 13 that the storm later in the day could reach the Windward Islands, a string of small islands that mark the eastern edge of the Caribbean. The storm appeared to be headed toward Mexico's Yucatan peninsula on its current trajectory and could hit that area by this weekend. However, forecasters cautioned that the storm is still too far away to predict accurately where it may strike the North American continent.

Meanwhile, crews were reported to be returning quickly to the drilling rigs and production platforms in the Gulf of Mexico that were shut down by Hurricane Dennis. The US Minerals Management Service said July 12 that 25 rigs and 64 platforms remained evacuated, with 857,975 b/d of crude and 4.3 bcf of natural gas still shut in. That amounts to 57.3% of the daily oil production and 43% of the daily natural gas production from the gulf, MMS said.

In the period of July 8-12, Hurricane Dennis has caused the cumulative production loss of 4.99 million bbl of oil and 22.4 bcf, said MMS officials.

Inventories fall
The US Energy Information Administration said July 13 that imports of crude declined by 265,000 b/d to 10 million b/d during the week ended July 8. However, the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, the largest US port for imported oil, did not halt offloading of tankers until July 9 and then continued supplying refiners from onshore storage while offloading was prevented by the storm.

Inputs of crude into US refineries fell by 384,000 b/d to 16.1 million b/d, with facilities operating at 96.2% of capacity in the week ended July 8. "Gasoline production dropped substantially, averaging over 8.8 million b/d, while distillate fuel production also declined significantly, averaging over 4.2 million b/d," EIA reported.

Commercial US crude oil inventories fell by 3.9 million bbl to 321 million bbl during the week, still in the upper end of the average range for this time of year. Gasoline stocks dropped by 2.7 million bbl to 212.6 million bbl, while distillate fuel inventories rose by 3.2 million bbl to 120.4 million bbl, with the gain split equally between diesel and heating oil.

Energy prices
The August contract for benchmark US light, sweet crudes escalated by $1.70 to $60.62/bbl July 12 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The September contract rose $1.40 to $61.48/bbl. On the US spot market, West Texas Intermediate at Cushing, Okla., rose by $1.50 to $60.63/bbl.

Heating oil for August delivery jumped by 6.97¢ to $1.75/gal. Gasoline for the same month increased by $4.33¢ to $1.38/gal. The August natural gas contract continued to advance, gaining 39¢ to $7.89/MMbtu on NYMEX.

In London, the August contract for North Sea Brent crude was up by $1.38 to $58.82/bbl on the International Petroleum Exchange.

The average price of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' basket of 11 benchmark crudes increased by $1 to $54.31/bbl July 12.

Contact Sam Fletcher at [email protected]