MARKET WATCHCold weather boosts energy prices

Energy prices rebounded slightly Feb. 6, with crude again failing to break through the $60/bbl level in the New York market, as some of the coldest weather this winter embraced the US Northeast.

Feb 7th, 2007

Sam Fletcher
Senior Writer

HOUSTON, Feb. 7 -- Energy prices rebounded slightly Feb. 6, with crude again failing to break through the $60/bbl level in the New York market, as some of the coldest weather this winter embraced the US Northeast.

It was "pretty much a repeat" of the Feb. 5 session, "with failed early attempts at $60/bbl leading to a rapid and continued correction," said Olivier Jakob, managing director of Petromatrix GMBH, Zug, Switzerland. "Technically the upward momentum is getting weaker," he said. "The whole energy complex is facing stiff resistance."

On Feb. 7, the US Energy Information Administration reported commercial US crude inventories slipped by 400,000 bbl to 324.5 million bbl in the week ended Feb. 2. US gasoline stocks increased by 2.6 million bbl to 227.2 million bbl in the same week, while distillate fuel inventories declined by 3.7 million bbl to 136.3 million bbl, with decreases in both heating oil and diesel.

Imports of crude into the US fell by 420,000 b/d to 9.5 million b/d during the same period. Gasoline imports averaged 984,000 b/d. The input of crude into US refineries increased by 53,000 b/d to 14.8 million b/d with refineries running at 87.3% of capacity. However, gasoline production declined to 9 million b/d while distillate production was relatively constant at 4 million b/d.

Energy prices
The March contract for benchmark US light, sweet crudes traded as high as $59.99/bbl before closing at $58.88/bbl, up 14¢ for the day on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The April contract gained 5¢ to $59.44/bbl. On the US spot market, West Texas Intermediate at Cushing, Okla., was up 14¢ to $58.89/bbl. Heating oil for March delivery increased by 1.53¢ to $1.68/gal on NYMEX. The March contract for reformulated blend stock for oxygenate blending (RBOB) gained 1.26¢ to $1.57/gal.

The March natural gas contract lost 1.8¢ to $7.61/MMbtu on NYMEX. On the US spot market, however, gas at Henry Hub, La., escalated by 82¢ to $8.98/MMbtu with increased demand for electric power in areas with low temperatures.

In London, the March IPE contract for North Sea Brent crude climbed 32¢ to $58.42/bbl. But gas oil for February lost $6 to $518.50/tonne.

The average price for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' basket of 11 benchmark crudes inched up by 4¢ to $54.58/bbl on Feb. 6.

Contact Sam Fletcher at samf@ogjonline.com.

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