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Refined Products

Recap: Oil futures fell to a one month low after the European Central Bank left interest rates unchanged, and as oil began to flow through one of Libya’s pipelines. Both of these factors had a domino effect on the U.S. dollar, which also aided in pressuring oil prices. Futures fell as much as 2.8% prior to paring losses. June WTI settled at $48.97 a barrel, down 65 cents, or 1.31%. Brent for June delivery slipped 38 cents, or 0.73%, to settle at $51.44.

May RBOB fell by 2.5% to $1.55 a gallon and May heating oil lost 1.9% to $1.507 a gallon. The May contracts for both products will expire at the end of Friday’s session.

Fundamental News:  Genscape reported that crude stocks held in Cushing, Oklahoma in the week ending Tuesday, April 25th fell by 1,213,327 barrels on the week and by 867,643 barrels from Friday, April 21st to 69,058,162 barrels.

OPEC’s Secretary General, Mohammad Barkindo, said an overhang in global oil inventories was declining but stockpiles still need to fall closer to the five year average.  However, he said market rebalancing is heading in the right direction. 

Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister, Khalid al-Falih said that he will talk with Russia’s Energy Minister, Alexander Novak, by phone this week and meet him within the next two weeks.  Venezuela’s Oil Minister, Nelson Martinez, was also planning to visit Moscow after talks in Algeria on April 26th.  Separately, Saudi Arabia’s Oil Minister and Azerbaijan’s Energy Minister agreed to support a global oil output cut deal. 

Iraq’s Oil Minister, Jaber al-Luaibi, said the country will go with the consensus reached by OPEC when the oil exporter group meets in Vienna next month to discuss extending production cuts.  Iraq believes it would be acceptable for the output cut agreement to remain in place beyond June.  He said Iraq was in full compliance with the OPEC-led supply agreement reached last year and has achieved about 97% of its output reduction target.  He added that the OPEC-led cuts were gradually leading to a long-awaited rebalancing of the oil market. 

Angola’s Oil Minister, Jose Maria Botelho de Vasconcelos, said he believed the OPEC/non-OPEC output cut agreement will be extended beyond June. 

Saudi Aramco’s CEO, Amin Nasser, said oil demand growth will continue to remain healthy for the foreseeable future and added that the idea of peak oil demand is as misleading as theories on peak supply.  He said the oil market is moving towards a balance with the help of an agreement reached between OPEC and non-OPEC producers.  He also stated that the oil industry needed to continue investing in long-term projects despite short term price volatility.   

Libya’s 300,000 bpd Sharara oilfield restarted as crude began to move through a pipeline connected to the Zawiya refinery after the end of protests by an armed group.  The pipeline carrying Sharara crude to the Zawiya refinery had been blocked in early April, halting production.  No details were immediately available about current output at the field.  A force majeure on exports of the grade was lifted on Thursday.  A Libyan oil source said the El Feel oilfield, with a capacity of 90,000 bpd, was also restarted.  Libya’s National Oil Corp is aiming to raise the country’s output to 1.1 million bpd in August from a current level of 491,000 bpd.  Meanwhile, there is an OPEC consensus that Libya should remain exempt from production cuts. 

Early Market Call - as of 9:00 AM EDT

WTI - June $49.38, up 41 cents

RBOB - May $1.5659, up 1.44 cents

HO - May $1.5115, up 41 points

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Natural Gas

On Thursday, April 27th, the June NYMEX Natural Gas Futures Contracts began trading as the prompt month.  Opening at $3.222, five cents below Wednesday’s closing price of $3.271, prices descended initially to find the intraday low of $3.207.  Climbing to peak above $3.245 thirty minutes later, the contract reverted to opening level territory as the weekly storage publication approached.  Treading gradually upward to record the intraday high of $3.266 by 10:40AM, selling soon directed the market down near $3.230.  Regaining its composure, June posted modest gains into the afternoon to close lower on Thursday at $3.239.

The EIA Natural Gas Storage Report published on Thursday showed a 74 BCF injection to storage for the week ended April 21st – just above the market estimate of 72 BCF. Total working gas in storage was reported as 2,189 BCF; 14.1% below this time last year and 15.8% above the five-year average.

This morning in Globex, WTI Crude was up 61 cents; Natural Gas was up two cents; Heating Oil was up one cent; and, Gasoline was up three cents.  Additionally, cash prices were lower in New York and New England.

Natural Gas Glossary

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