Market watch, Aug. 18

International energy futures markets continued to rebound Thursday, with assurances from Venezuelan Energy Minister Ali Rodriguez Araque that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries doesn't contemplate any production increases prior to its next ministerial meeting on Sept. 10 in Vienna. Rodriguez is also OPEC's conference president.

Aug 18th, 2000


International energy futures markets continued to rebound Thursday, with assurances from Venezuelan Energy Minister Ali Rodriguez Araque that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries doesn't contemplate any production increases prior to its next ministerial meeting on Sept. 10 in Vienna.

Rodriguez is also OPEC's conference president.

Algeria's Energy Minister Chakib Khelil also said Thursday he is satisfied with a current level of international oil prices, around $30/bbl. However, he said the latest price spike is cyclical and unlikely to last. He said Algeria would still like to see prices stabilize around $25/bbl.

The September contract for benchmark US light, sweet crudes gained 14� to $31.94/bbl on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The October contract closed at $31.33/bbl, up 35� for the day. Both contracts continued to inch up in after-hours electronic trading to $31.95/bbl and $31.40/bbl respectively.

Rumors of problems at a New Jersey refinery helped lift refined product prices Thursday. The September NYMEX contract for home heating oil was up 1.85� to 88.73�/gal, while unleaded gasoline for the same month gained 1.43� to 94.46�/gal.

However, natural gas for September delivery dipped 0.7� to $4.41/Mcf on the NYMEX.

In London on the International Petroleum Exchange, the October contract for North Sea Brent crude gained 42� to $30.16/bbl, while the November contract was up 44� to $29.53/bbl.

The September gas contract remained flat at the equivalent of $2.46/Mcf on the IPE.

On the Singapore exchange, the Brent crude contract for October settled at $30.30/bbl, up 56�. The November contract added 58� to finish at $29.67.

The average price for OPEC's basket of seven crudes was up 44� to $29.12/bbl Thursday.

US refineries set an all-time record in July by processing 15.9 million b/d of crude, said American Petroleum Institute officials. That was 2.9% higher than a year ago, with plants operating at 96% capacity.

US gasoline inventories increased by 1.1% to 206.6 million bbl in July.

But oil stocks were down 14.6% from a year ago to 283.5 million bbl, officials said. Distillate stocks also were 18.5% below year-ago levels to 111.9 million bbl last month.

In New England, stocks of home heating oil and diesel were down to 4.8 million bbl at the end of the month�60% below average July levels for the past 5 years, API officials reported. They said total distillate fuel deliveries were 5.3% less than last July when deliveries were unusually high.

US oil imports in July were down 3.4% from a year ago to 9.08 million b/d. Imports of refined products were down by 13.4% to 2 million b/d�the fourth consecutive monthly decline, API officials said.

More in Economics & Markets