Crude oil futures continue gains

Crude oil futures prices settled above $102/bbl May 14 on the New York market on another reported gain in US oil inventories, and analysts attributed the strong crude price to momentum created when US Sec. of Energy Ernest Moniz said he was contemplating whether to overturn a ban on oil exports.

Analysts noted that unresolved questions about the Russia-Ukraine conflict also supported oil prices.

For the week ended May 9, the Energy Information Administration estimated US commercial crude oil inventories, excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, rose 900,000 bbl compared with the previous week (OGJ Online, May 14, 2014).

At 398.5 million bbl, crude oil inventories are above the average range for this time of year, EIA said May 13 in its weekly petroleum inventory report.

Tim Evans, a Citi Futures analyst, said world geopolitics contributed to strong crude oil benchmark prices. “Uncertainty over Russian supplies at risk from sanctions related to Ukraine and delays in an expected increase in Libyan oil production remained background fundamental supports,” he said.

Meanwhile, estimated working gas in underground storage in the Lower 48 was 1.16 tcf as of May 9, EIA said. That marked a net increase of 105 bcf from the previous week. The latest weekly natural gas report showed stored gas levels at 790 bcf less than last year at this time and 959 bcf below the 5-year average of 2.119 tcf.

Energy prices

In trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange on May 14, the June crude oil contract price increased 67¢, closing at $102.37/bbl. The July contract climbed 69¢ to settle at $101.74/bbl.

The June natural gas contract rose by less than a penny to a rounded $4.37/MMbtu. Heating oil for June delivery gained 1.86¢ to a rounded $2.96/gal. Reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenate blending for June delivery rose 3.9¢ to a rounded $2.97/gal.

In London, the June ICE contract for Brent crude delivery increased 95¢, closing at $110.19/bbl. The July contract gained 77¢ to settle at $109.31/bbl. The ICE gas oil contract for June was up $9.29 to $915.25/tonne.

The OPEC basket of 12 benchmark crudes on May 14 was $105.62/bbl, up $1.12.