May 22, 2023 [RBN Energy LLC]- Crude oil prices moved lower again on Friday with WTI settling at $71.55/bbl, down $0.31/bbl. Debt ceiling paranoia was blamed for the downward pressure on prices after Republicans and the Biden administration ‘paused’ negotiations. The June WTI contract rolls off the board on Monday.
The Baker Hughes rig count out on Friday showed a drop of 11 to 720, which is the lowest count in a year. This week all of the rigs going inactive were oil. Last week the count was down 17, with all but two of those gas rigs going inactive.
The natural gas market was subdued on Friday after a big move up Thursday. After EIA stats came out on Thursday, natural gas prices recorded the largest rise this month, increasing $0.227/MMbtu or 9.6% to settle at $2.592/MMbtu. The EIA posting revealed a 99 Bcf increase in stocks compared to an industry consensus estimate of about 108 Bcf.
Production has been strong, consistently over 100 Bcf/d. LNG feedgas volumes have been muted – Friday only 12 Bcf/d. Consequently, the low-end injection number was a surprise, driving gas prices higher. But that impact was transient. On Friday natgas was down $0.007/MMbtu to settle at $2.585/MMbtu.
In their Saturday communique, the G7 included support for natural gas investments as a “temporary” move to wean the rich nations off Russian supplies, saying that gas projects “can be appropriate to help address potential market shortfalls”. Climate activists decried the move.
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