OIL PRICE: ABOVE $54 ANEW
OGJ , BLOOMBERG - Light, sweet crude oil climbed modestly on the New York Mercantile Exchange May 23 with the July contract settling at nearly $51.50/bbl. Analysts attributed the gain to growing confidence that major producers will extend production targets into next year to support oil prices and reduce inventories.
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is scheduled to meet May 25 in Vienna. Saudi Arabia has pushed the idea of extending the existing production targets for 9 months to March 2018.
Members of the cartel want oil inventories worldwide to fall to a 5-year average, analysts say. But traders remain concerned that rising US oil production could counteract OPEC's efforts.
Last year, OPEC members and 11 non-members agreed to cut output by about 1.8 million b/d of which OPEC's share is 1.2 million b/d. The initial production-reduction targets were for 6 months starting in January.
Worldwide oil inventories have declined slower than expected, prompting some countries to call for an extension of the production targets.
Venezuela, Russia, and Algeria along with Saudi Arabia have said they support continuing the agreement through March 2018. Oman oil officials have suggested they are unopposed to 9 months but want more discussion. Kuwait officials said they would consider a 12-month extension.
The US Energy Information Administration was scheduled to release its weekly oil and product inventory report May 24.
The July light, sweet crude contract on NYMEX climbed 34¢ on May 23 to close at $51.47/bbl. The August contract rose 32¢ to settle at $51.72/bbl.
The natural gas price for June fell 11¢ to a rounded $3.22/MMbtu. The Henry Hub cash gas price was $3.20/MMbtu, down 1¢.
Heating oil for June edged up less than 1¢ to a rounded $1.61/gal. Reformulated gasoline stock for oxygenate blending for June dropped a fraction of a cent to remain at a rounded $1.66/gal.
The Brent crude contract for July on London's ICE gained 28¢ to $54.15/bbl. The August contract was up 30¢ to $54.41/bbl. The June gas oil contract held unchanged at $479/tonne.
OPEC's basket of crudes on May 23 settled at $51.34/bbl, down 20¢.
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BP and its partners in Azerbaijan's giant ACG oil production complex agreed Thursday to extend the production sharing contract by 25 years to 2049 and to increase the stake of state-owned SOCAR, reducing the size of their own shares.
The U.S. current-account deficit increased to $123.1 billion (preliminary) in the second quarter of 2017 from $113.5 billion (revised) in the first quarter of 2017, according to statistics released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). The deficit increased to 2.6 percent of current-dollar gross domestic product (GDP) from 2.4 percent in the first quarter.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 were trading up 41 cents, or 0.8 percent, at $50.30 by 0852 GMT, near the three-month high of $50.50 it reached last Thursday. Brent crude futures LCOc1, the benchmark for oil prices outside the United States, were at $55.91 a barrel, up 29 cents, and also not far from the near five-month high of $55.99 touched on Thursday.
“The principal risk regarding Russian and Chinese activities in Venezuela in the near term is that they will exploit the unfolding crisis, including the effect of US sanctions, to deepen their control over Venezuela’s resources, and their [financial] leverage over the country as an anti-US political and military partner,” observed R. Evan Ellis, a senior associate in the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Americas Program.