Singapore: Oil prices were little changed on Tuesday, 14 August, as concerns over a tropical storm eased with a revised forecast that predicted the storm will turn away from the Gulf of Mexico. Weekend refinery problems also turned out not to be as bad as initially thought.
Light, sweet crude for September delivery lost 7 cents to $71.55 a barrel in Asian electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange midmorning in Singapore. The contract rose 15 cents to settle at $71.62 a barrel Monday.
September Brent crude edged down 3 cents to $70.20 a barrel on the ICE futures exchange in London.
Tropical Depression Four, located in the central Atlantic Ocean, is strengthening and bearing down on the Caribbean Sea. But forecasters now believe the storm will swing north toward the Eastern Seaboard and away from the Gulf, where it might interrupt production and oil shipments.
News of a number of reports of refinery outages over the weekend boosted gasoline futures Monday in the US. Several refiners later said, though, that their maintenance woes would not affect gasoline production.
Also, a refinery in Coffeyville, Kansas, that has been closed since a late June flood said it might open sooner than expected.
After weeks of increased US refinery activity and growing gasoline inventories, gasoline futures fell steeply over the last month. But last week’s inventory report from the Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration rekindled supply concerns by showing a sharp decline in both refinery activity and gas inventories.
Weekly data due Wednesday is expected to show US distillate inventories rose and crude stocks fell last week because of rising refinery use, according to a Dow Jones Newswires survey of energy analysts.
Refinery utilization, which fell by an unexpected 2.3 percentage points of operating capacity in last week’s report, is expected to have risen a modest 0.5 percentage point to 91.8% in the week ended 10 August. The five-year average for this time of year is 93.7%.
Crude oil stocks, which fell by an unexpectedly large 4.1 million barrels to 340.4 million barrels in the week ended Aug. 3, fell by another 2.1 million barrels last week, the analysts predict.
Forecasts for distillate stocks, which include heating oil and diesel fuel, projected a rise of 1.0 million barrels. Gasoline stocks are expected to have declined 400,000 barrels.
In other Nymex trading, gasoline futures dropped 0.46 cent to US$1.9329 a gallon (3.8 liters) while heating oil prices fell 0.25 cent to US$1.964 a gallon.
Natural gas futures declined 5.6 cents to US$6.738 per 1,000 cubic feet.