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Refined Products

Recap: Oil markets settled mixed Wednesday as the products finished lower and NYMEX (WTI) Crude settled higher, surprisingly. The EIA released its weekly DOE Inventory Report that was bearish for oil markets showing that crude oil stocks increased a whopping 10.3 Million barrels (MMbs) on expectations of 4 MMbs to another record high of 444.4 MMbs. This increase was the largest week-on-week build since March 2001, and crude stocks now stand at the highest level since November 1930. However, estimates for a larger increase at Cushing, OK 's storage hub did not materialize, but instead resulted in a smaller, .5 MMb, increase. Although the Cushing number was not as bearish as traders expected, stocks in Cushing are within a few million barrels of their all-time high. Interestingly, oil bulls managed to turn NYMEX Crude back into positive territory where it settled up $1.01 cents to $51.53. Distillate stocks declined less than expected at 1.7 MMbs to 123 MMbs, and gasoline stocks remained virtually unchanged at 240.1 MMbs. NYMEX ULSD (HO) settled lower 3.82 cents to $1.9013 and NYMEX RBOB (Gasoline) settled lower 2.42 cents to $1.9257. ICE Brent settled down 47 cents to $60.55, narrowing the Brent-WTI spread to $9.02, its lowest level since February 19th. Currently, oil markets are mixed with the crudes up: NYMEX Crude is up 11 cents to $51.64 and ICE Brent is up 55 cents to $61.10. NYMEX ULSD is down 59 points to $1.8954 and NYMEX RBOB is down 1.02 cents to $1.9155.

Recap PADD 1 (East Coast): DOE Inventories:   The DOE Inventory Report for the week ended February 27, 2015 showed that national refinery operable capacity percentages declined .8  percentage points from the previous week down to 86.6%, while PADD 1 refiners lost 8.8 percentage points to 62.3% due to cold-weather related outages with East Coast refiners last week (last year was at 75.8%). PADD 1  was only region where distillates declined, decreasing a total of 3.1 MMbs, more than the total national distillate decline for a second week in a row! PADD 1A (New England), PADD 1B (Central), and PADD 1C (Lower) all declined; .17 MMbs, 2.75 MMbs, and .17 MMbs, respectively. Despite distillate declines, PADD 1's  overall distillate stocks are even as compared to last year (see chart below) but are now 28.4% below the 5-year average. PADD 1A is now only .9% higher than last year, but  is 28.8% below the 5-year average, PADD 1B is 14.8% lower than last year and 38.5% below the 5-year average, and PADD 1C is 3.1% above last year, but 12.4% below the 5-year average.  

And the winners receiving a Sprague Winter Survival Kit for the best "new" word/phrase to characterize this winter's cold and/or snow conditions:

"Coldiculous" by Jessica James of Dead River Company, South Portland, ME &

"Arctacular" by Scott Sullivan of Rutland Fuel Company in Rutland, VT. Congrats! The competition was tough, unbelievable creativity, and the laughs great! Thanks everyone!

Finally, a NOAA 6-10 Day Temperature Probability Outlook Chart (see link below) that looks closer to normal than  "coldiculous." And for those delivering heating oil, it has been an "arctacular" season!  MarketWatch will return next Wednesday.
Click here to view today's Refined Products MarketWatch

Natural Gas

Thursday, March 5th, saw the front-month NYMEX Natural Gas Futures Contracts open at $2.764, a tad below Wednesday’s closing price of $2.769.  On a slight downward swing during the early minutes of trading, the contract scratched the intraday low of $2.753, but then charged up to hover beneath the $2.82 level at 10:20AM.  Despite an EIA storage report revealing slightly larger-than-expected inventory withdrawal, prices plunged immediately after 10:30AM to the mid $2.76s, and yet shot up vengefully thereafter, ripping through the $2.84 level a swift twenty minutes later.  After banging around the $2.81 mark on the noon course, April was steadied by a reconfirmed warm March, and leveled up easily to the close, recording the intraday high of $2.847 at 2:20PM, and once again just before the finish line.  April ended the session up nearly three percent at $2.841 on Thursday.

The EIA Natural Gas Storage Report published on Thursday showed a 228 BCF withdrawal from storage for the week ended February 27th – slightly higher than the market estimate of 227 BCF.  Total working gas in storage was reported as 1,710 BCF; 40.4% above this time last year and 7.7% below the five-year average.

This morning in Globex, WTI Crude was down ten cents; Natural Gas was down three cents; Heating Oil was up two cents; and, Gasoline was flat.

New England and New York cash prices were lower across the board.  


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.