MARKET WATCH: NYMEX oil prices settle above $51/bbl

Crude oil prices rose on the New York market Feb. 6 to settle above $51/bbl after the Baker Hughes Inc. weekly rig count showed a decline of 87 rigs for the week ended Feb. 6, marking 10 weeks of consecutive falling rig count totals.

Crude oil prices rose on the New York market Feb. 6 to settle above $51/bbl after the Baker Hughes Inc. weekly rig count showed a decline of 87 rigs for the week ended Feb. 6, marking 10 weeks of consecutive falling rig count totals.

Meanwhile, on Feb. 9, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries increased its 2015 demand growth forecast for OPEC crude oil in its monthly Oil Market Report.

In the revised forecast, demand for OPEC oil was estimated to average 29.21 million b/d in 2015, up 430,000 b/d from its earlier forecast. It said non-OPEC supply would rise by 850,000 b/d this year, down 420,000 b/d from last month’s OMR.

If the forecast proves accurate, there would be higher demand for OPEC crude oil in 2015 than 2014. OPEC’s forecast for non-OPEC production growth was cut by a third due to a slowdown in the US shale and lower oil investments.

OPEC said, “[Lower non-OPEC supply is] mainly due to announced capital expenditures cuts for 2015 on the part of international oil companies, as well as a decline in the number of active drilling rigs in the US and Canada.”

Separately, statistics from China showed Chinese oil imports fell during January, marking nearly a 20% decline from January 2014. Statistics showed January 2015 crude oil imports were 6.6 million b/d, down 8% from the previous month.

In the US during the weekend, United Steelworkers union expanded its strike to two more refineries. The latest refineries are BP PLC’s Whiting, Ind., refinery and a refinery outside Toledo, Ohio, that BP jointly owns with Husky Energy Inc. BP said it would continue to operate its refineries.

USW told reporters in statements and interviews that little progress has been made toward resolving differences, and a Royal Dutch Shell PLC spokesman said talks are scheduled to resume this week.

Together, all the refineries on strike account for about 13% of US refining capacity.

Energy prices

The New York Mercantile Exchange crude oil contract for March delivery gained $1.21 on Feb. 6, closing at $51.69/bbl. The April contract increased $1.19 to $52.50/bbl.

The natural gas contract for March was down 2¢ to a rounded $2.58/MMbtu on NYMEX. The Henry Hub, La., gas price was down 8¢ to $2.55/MMbtu on Feb. 6.

Heating oil for March climbed 3.3¢ to a rounded $1.84/gal. Reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenate blending for March was up 3.4¢ to a rounded $1.56/gal.

The March ICE contract for Brent crude oil climbed $1.23 to settle at $57.80/bbl. Meanwhile, the April Brent contract was up $1.17 to $58.68/bbl. The ICE gas oil contract for February gained $9 to $550.50/tonne.

The average price for OPEC’s basket of 12 benchmark crudes on Feb. 6 was $53.36/bbl, up $2.55 from the previous day.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

*Paula Dittrick is editor of OGJ’s Unconventional Oil & Gas Report.

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