Light, sweet crude for March delivery settled under $30/bbl on the New York Mercantile Exchange Feb. 2 but prices were on the rise in early Feb. 3 trading awaiting release of the weekly government inventory, which showed a bigger-than-expected gain.
The Energy Information Administration estimated US commercial crude oil inventories, excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, increased 7.8 million bbl for the week ended Jan. 29 compared with the previous week. The latest total was 502.7 million bbl, the Petroleum Status Report said.
Analysts surveyed by The Wall Street Journal in advance of the inventory said they expected statistics to show oil supply increased by 3.5 million bbl. They also expected gasoline stockpiles would gain.
US gasoline supplies have been building at a time of year when gasoline demand typically slows. The price for reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenates blending for March was down 8¢ to a rounded $1/gal on Feb. 2, marking the lowest settlement since December 2008.
During Feb. 2 trading, prices briefly dipped below $1/gal to a trading session low of a rounded 98¢/gal, a price not experienced since 2008.
Gasoline inventory climb
Total motor gasoline inventories increased 5.9 million bbl for the week ended Jan. 29, and EIA said that level was well above the upper limit of the average range.
Finished gasoline inventories decreased while blending components inventories increased. Distillate fuel inventories decreased 800,000 bbl, which EIA said was near the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.
Propane-propylene inventories fell 5.6 million bbl, and that level remains well above the upper limit of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories increased 9.5 million bbl.
US refinery inputs averaged more than 15.6 million b/d for the week ended Jan. 29, which was 24,000 b/d less than the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 86.6% of capacity.
Gasoline production decreased, averaging more than 8.6 million b/d. Distillate fuel production decreased last week, averaging more than 4.4 million b/d.
US crude oil imports averaged 8.3 million b/d, up 647,000 b/d from the previous week. Over the last 4 weeks, crude oil imports averaged 8 million b/d, 7.8% above the same 4-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports, including finished gasoline and gasoline blending components, last week averaged 624,000 b/d. Distillate fuel imports averaged 191,000 b/d.
The March crude oil contract on NYMEX declined $1.74/bbl to $29.88/bbl. The April contract fell $1.75 to $31.61/bbl.
The NYMEX natural gas contract for March fell nearly 13¢ to $2.025/MMbtu. The Henry Hub gas price declined 15¢ to $2.03/MMbtu on Feb. 2. Heating oil for March delivery fell 2.6¢ to a rounded $1.01/gal.
The April ICE contract for Brent crude dropped $1.52 to settle at $32.72/bbl on Feb. 2, and the May contract dropped $1.56/bbl to settle at $33.47/bbl.
The ICE gas oil contract for February was $291/tonne, down $7.75.
The average price for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ basket of 12 benchmark crudes for Feb. 2 was $28.36/bbl, down 33¢.