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Refined Products

Recap:  The oil market traded above $50 on Thursday for the first time in nearly seven months as it continued its upward trend.  The market was well supported by Wednesday's EIA report showing a large draw in crude stocks.  The market has risen nearly 90% from its 12 year lows seen this winter on the unrest in Libya and Nigeria and the recent wildfires in Canada, which have all caused a decline in global production of about 4 million bpd.  The crude market rallied to a high of $50.21 early in the session before it gave back its gains.  Its move above the $50 level came with concerns that higher prices could unlock more supply as it could prompt producers, particularly US shale drillers, to revive scrapped operations and trigger a new selloff.  The market sold off to a low of $49.22 and settled in a sideways trading pattern during the remainder of the session.  The July WTI contract settled down 8 cents at $49.48 while the July Brent contract settled down 15 cents at $49.59.  Meanwhile, the June RBOB contract settled down 2.21 cents at $1.6195 and the June heating oil market fell 1.14 cents to $1.5013. 

Fundamental News:   Sources stated that OPEC officials were more positive about oil market conditions at talks in Vienna ahead of next week's gathering of oil ministers, a sign the group is unlikely to change its output policy at its meeting on June 2nd.  OPEC's national representatives, officials representing the 13 member countries, plus officials from OPEC's Vienna Secretariat, met to discuss the market.  The two day meeting, called the Economic Commission Board, ended on Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia is offering extra crude to customers in Asia, a sign the country does not intend to cut its output.  Saudi Arabia's offers of more oil come after it recently completed maintenance programs that had reduced supplies from some fields during the second quarter.  Saudi Arabia will also soon increase its Arab Extra Light crude output with an expansion of its Shaybah oilfield.  It is expected to increase output at the field over the next two weeks to 1 million bpd.  However some Asian refiners said they were not seeking to buy more Arab Extra Light crude after Saudi Aramco raised the oil's official selling price by 80 cents/barrel in June.   

Nearly two dozen tankers were queued outside the French oil import terminal in Fos on Thursday due to the strike by CGT and FO unions.  The Port of Marseille stated that 21 vessels including 12 carrying oil, LNG or chemicals, were waiting.  During normal operations, about 5 vessels would be waiting.  France's CGT union was seeking to cut power and fuel supplies and hamper the public transport network on Thursday. 

Genscape reported that cargoes carrying diesel and jet fuel have changed their destinations and are headed to France.  At least 232,000 metric tons of distillates are now heading to France, including ships that were previously bound for Rotterdam and Hamburg. 

A Nigerian Delta State Committee said a military invasion of the Delta will not end the pipeline attacks.  Separately, Chevron's onshore activities in Nigeria's Niger Delta have been shut down by a militant attack on an electricity power line leading to its Escravos terminal.  A militant group called the Niger Delta Avengers, which has told oil firms to leave the delta before the end of May, said it had blown up the facility's main electricity feed. 

Credit Suisse reported that refining margins across most US petroleum districts increased in the week ending May 20th.  Margins in the Midwest increased by $2.66 to $18.16/barrel while margins in the East Coast increased by $1.73 to $12.04/barrel and margins in the Gulf Coast region increased by $1.59 to $11.22/barrel.  Margins in the West Coast increased by $1.04 to $18.33/barrel while margins in the Rockies region fell by $1.29 to $28.44/barrel.

Early Market Call - as of 9:00 AM EDT

WTI - July $48.79, down 69 cents

RBOB - June $1.6059, down 1.36 cents

HO - June $1.4805, down 2.08 cents 

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Natural Gas

On Thursday, May 26th – settlement day for the June Contract – the front-month NYMEX Natural Gas Futures Contracts opened at $1.943, five cents below Wednesday’s closing price of $1.992.  Trading gradually higher out of the gate, prices rose to $1.965 as the weekly storage report drew near.  As the slightly bullish report hit the wire, the contract plunged downward below the $1.92 mark.  Posting a modest recovery in the following minutes, prices then began a drawn-out decline which lasted until 1:20PM, as traders found the intraday low of $1.909.  Mounting a confident ascent through the last hour of the day, June rose to the intraday high of $1.985 at 2:20PM before settling lower on Thursday at $1.962.

The EIA Natural Gas Storage Report published on Thursday showed a 71 BCF injection to storage for the week ended May 20th – above the market estimate of 66 BCF.  Total working gas in storage was reported as 2,825 BCF, 36.5% above this time last year and 37.4% above the five-year average.

This morning in Globex, WTI Crude was down 52 cents; Natural Gas was up one cent; Heating Oil was down two cents; and, Gasoline was down one cent.  Additionally, cash prices were lower in New York and New England.

Natural Gas Glossary

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