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Refined Products

Recap: After a tumultuous week of trading, oil prices bounced for the second straight session after data released by China’s General Administration of Customs showed that crude oil imports to China rose to 9.01 million barrels per day, the second largest number on record. Looming strikes in Nigeria also added to the boost in prices. January WTI settled at $57.36 a barrel, up 67 cents, or 1.2%, however slipped 1.7% on the week. Brent for February delivery tacked on 1.20, or 1.9%, to settle at $63.40 a barrel, which was down 0.6% on the week.  

Thursday’s settlement above the ascending trend line on a daily bar chart for January heating oil was followed by additional strength above this line on Friday. Previous resistance provided by the 10-day moving average will now act as a level of support. This average is currently set at $1.9123. January RBOB rose 1% to $1.717 a gallon; however saw a weekly loss of about 1.4%. January heating oil added 1.7% to $1.929 a gallon, cutting its weekly loss to about 0.6%.

Fundamental News:   Custom officials in China reported Friday that Chinese crude oil imports in November reached 37.04 million tonnes, or 9.01 million b/d, the second highest monthly level on record. So far this year Chinese crude oil imports are up 12% from a year ago.

The CFTC reported this afternoon that money managers reduced their net long U.S. crude futures and options positions for the week ending December 5th by 9,135 contracts to 442,742.

Baker Hughes reported that for the week ending December 8th U.S. energy companies’ added oil drilling rigs for the third week in a row, the longest string of increases since the summer. Drillers added two rigs on the week, bringing the total count up to 751, the highest level since September. A year ago only 498 rigs were operating.

Oil Movements said in its weekly report that it sees OPEC oil shipments climbing by 430,000 b/d to 26.24 million b/d in the four week period ending December 23rd.

Philadelphia Energy Solutions reported Friday that its 85,000 b/d CDU and its 52,466 b/d VDU at its Girard Point refinery which had been offline since November 25th for planned repairs were restarted on Thursday.

Reuters reported this afternoon that Phillips 66 plans to shut down its FCC unit, as well as the alky and isomer units at its 150,000 b/d Bayway refinery on February 2nd for two months of maintenance. The work is expected to boost gasoline and diesel yields by about 4,000 b/d.

Early Market Call - as of 9:17 AM EDT

WTI - Jan $57.47 up 11 cents

RBOB - Jan $1.7185 up 19 points

HO - Jan $1.9381 up 93 points

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Natural Gas

Friday, December 8th saw the front-month NYMEX Natural Gas Futures Contracts open at $2.790, three cents above Thursday’s closing price of $2.763.  Continuing the week’s trend as healthy storage levels and production have outweighed below-average temperatures through mid-December, prices trended downward until reaching the intraday low of $2.757 by 10:30AM.  Recovering to seesaw along $2.775 from midday onward, January closed higher on Friday at $2.772.

This morning in Globex, WTI Crude was up 16 cents; Natural Gas was up three cents; Heating Oil up one cent; and, Gasoline was up one cent.  

Natural Gas Glossary                                                                                                 

For access to Sprague’s full Natural Gas Market Watch Report including commentary not posted here, please send your request to or call 1-855-466-2842.