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Supported by higher U.S. gasoline consumption, record U.S. gasoline exports, and an increase in oil prices at the end of 2016, energy commodity prices rose more than any other major commodity group last year, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Tuesday.
The spot energy index in the S&P Goldman Sachs Commodity Index (GSCI) increased by 48 percent in 2016, the EIA said, comparing the spot energy index rise with the spot S&P GSCI industrial metals index growth of 22 percent, the precious metals index which saw an increase of 8 percent, and the agriculture index that posted a 5-percent growth.
West Texas Intermediate (WTI) and Brent account for 69 percent of the weighting in the S&P GSCI energy index, and as such the index usually trends the crude price movements.
Following the 13-year-lows of January and February, prices had been stable in the US$40-50 range since May. The highest prices were recorded in December when OPEC and non-OPEC producers announced the deal to reduce oil supply starting on 1 January.
Crude prices were also supported by improved economic growth in both mature and emerging markets, the EIA said.
Petroleum-based products, for their part, account for 26 percent of the S&P GSCI energy index weighting. The rise in U.S. gasoline consumption and “record high U.S. gasoline exports helped to draw down gasoline inventories and to provide some price support in the last few months of 2016”, according to the EIA.
In the week of 23 December, U.S. exports of finished motor gasoline rose to a record high of 1.149 million barrels per day, EIA data showed.
U.S. refiners are now exporting record volumes of product abroad. The U.S. refining complex exported nearly 4 million barrels per day of gasoline, distillates and propane, helped by operational issues in refineries in Latin America.
Gasoline exports, for example, have doubled since the summer, as refiners have taken advantage of record U.S. crude oil production to churn out ever more refined petroleum products. Also, the discount that WTI has traded to the Brent has made U.S. products more competitive abroad.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for the U.S.-based Divergente LLC consulting firm with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and…