MARKET WATCHUS oil futures fall upon warm weather forecasts

The near-month crude futures price settled at $61.64/bbl Mar. 8 in New York markets, retreating from a trading session high of $62.30/bbl.

Paula Dittrick
Senior Staff Writer

HOUSTON, Mar. 9 -- The near-month crude futures price settled at $61.64/bbl Mar. 8 in New York markets, retreating from a trading session high of $62.30/bbl.

The Mar. 8 closing price for benchmark US sweet, light crudes for April delivery was 18¢ lower than the Mar. 7 closing price on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Mar. 7 the contract price rose $1.13 closing at $61.82/bbl. That hike came after the US Energy Information Administration reported drops in inventory levels for crude, gasoline, and distillate (OGJ Online, Mar. 8, 2007).

Traders said the Mar. 8 oil and heating oil futures dipped largely because the US National Weather Service forecast warmer-than-normal weather for Mar. 13-21 across most of the US. Traders believe heating oil supplies will be sufficient to meet demand as winter ends.

Gasoline futures meanwhile maintained their momentum, reaching the highest price in more than 6 months.

Refineries are processing at reduced rates during maintenance. Tesoro Corp. said start-up of its Golden Eagle refinery's key fluid catalytic cracker is expected to be delayed until around Mar. 16. The 161,000 b/cd refinery is in Martinez, Calif. Tesoro had restarted the cracker unit on Feb. 26, but mechanical problems took it out of commission Mar. 3.

Valero Energy Corp. said its Sunray refinery in the Texas Panhandle will be down until early April following a Feb. 16 fire, believed to have started in the propane de-asphalting unit.

Energy prices
The May contact for benchmark US sweet, light crudes closed at $63.22/bbl, down by 6¢ for the day. On the US spot market, West Texas Intermediate at Cushing, Okla., was down by 18¢ to $61.65/bbl.

The April contract for reformulated blend stock for oxygenate blending (RBOB) jumped by 3.06¢ to $1.9261/gal on NYMEX, the highest settlement price for that contract since Aug. 22, 2006. Heating oil for the same month fell 0.61¢ to $1.7613/gal.

The April natural gas contract lost 12.7¢ to $7.239/MMbtu. On the US spot market, natural gas at Henry Hub, La., slipped by 36¢ to $7.14/MMbtu.

In London, the April IPE contract for North Sea Brent crude lost 17¢ to $62.33/bbl. Gas oil for March decreased by $1.75 to $541.50/tonne.

The average price for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' basket of 11 benchmark crudes rose by 56¢ to $58.64/bbl on Mar. 8.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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