MARKET WATCH: NYMEX, Brent crude oil prices steady despite Iraq, Iran politics

Crude oil prices held flat on the New York and London markets Oct. 17 as oil investors monitoring political tensions in the Middle East and awaited the release of the weekly US oil and product inventory.

Crude oil prices held flat on the New York and London markets Oct. 17 as oil investors monitoring political tensions in the Middle East and awaited the release of the weekly US oil and product inventory.

Earlier in the week, Iraqi government forces took control of the oil-rich Kirkuk province from Kurkish fighters in an ongoing dispute about Kurkish independence.

Iraq’s Oil Minister Jabbar al-Luaibi told the Wall Street Journal Oct. 17 that Kirkuk oil fields continue producing normally.

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump last week refused to certify Iran’s compliance with a 2015 international agreement to curb that country’s nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. US policy regarding Iran remains uncertain as Congress decides what to do.

Iran’s Deputy Oil Minister Amir Zamaninia told an oil industry conference in London that Trump’s decision has “little or no effect on our future plans on the oil industry.”

Olivier Jakob, PetroMatrix oil analyst, said he does not expect that international tensions will lend more oil-price support. “Geopolitical risk is somehow priced in,” he said.

Jakob forecast Brent as unlikely to push above $60/bbl. Brent crude oil for December delivery settled just under $57.90/bbl on Oct. 17.

He suggests $60/bbl Brent could prompt lower compliance with production-cut targets set by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and other major producers.

Energy prices

The November light, sweet crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose 1¢ to $51.88/bbl on Oct. 17. The December contract was down 3¢ to $52.11/bbl.

The NYMEX natural gas price for November rose 1¢ to a rounded $2.96/MMbtu. The Henry Hub cash gas price was $2.89/MMbtu, up 2¢.

Heating oil for November edged down less than a penny to remain at $1.81/gal. The NYMEX reformulated gasoline blendstock for November rose 1¢ to a rounded $1.63/gal.

The Brent crude contract for December on London’s ICE climbed 6¢ to $57.88/bbl. The January contract was down 2¢ to $57.54/bbl. The gas oil contract for November was $537.25/tonne.

OPEC’s basket of crudes for Oct. 17 was $55.83/bbl, up 9¢.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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