Crude Oil Jumps, Natural Gas Falls on OPEC, EIA Data

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Crude oil futures are rising and natural gas futures are sliding. It has been that kind of day on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Thursday amid data and the world’s largest oil cartel raising production.

January West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose $0.67, or 1.02%, to $66.21 per barrel at 15:45 GMT on Thursday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. US crude is poised for a weekly decline of 15%, paring its year-to-date rally to 37%.

January natural gas futures slumped $0.05, or 1.17%, to $4.208 per million British thermal units (btu). Natural gas will suffer a 17% weekly loss, but it is still up about 67% year-to-date.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, OPEC+, agreed to move ahead with its plan of raising production by 400,000 barrels per day in January. This is part of efforts to reverse last year’s enormous production cuts in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, the group noted that it could “make immediate adjustments” should the present market conditions change.

Some energy analysts had anticipated the group would reassess its decision after the wave of price volatility and changes in market conditions.

“We think OPEC+ are likely to maintain that momentum in releasing additional oil,” Alex Booth, head of research at Kpler, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe” on Thursday.

“Let’s not forget, we’re talking about additional oil in January, the decision for December has basically already been made.”

natural gas prices

Meanwhile, in natural gas markets, it was all about supplies and the weather.

According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), natural gas stockpiles fell by 59 billion cubic feet in the week ending November 26, slightly higher than the market forecast of 57 billion cubic feet.

In total, US inventories of natural gas are 3.564 trillion cubic feet, down 375 billion cubic feet from the same time last year. They are also 86 billion cubic feet under the country’s five-year average.

Natural gas prices have essentially cratered over the last month on changes in weather patterns. It has been mostly warmer than normal in much of the US, and the latest weather models suggest more of the same in December.

In other energy commodities, February Brent crude futures surged $0.76, or 1.1%, to $69.63 a barrel on London’s ICE Futures exchange. January gasoline futures added $).0366, or 1.88%, to $1.9877 per gallon. January heating oil futures advanced $0.0406, or 1.93%< to $2.1171 a gallon.

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