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Slow drain on U.S. crude oil prices as production balances inventories
by Daniel J. Graeber
Washington (UPI) Aug 22, 2017

U.S. gasoline prices more or less steady as summer fades
Washington (UPI) Aug 22, 2017 - U.S. gas prices are slightly lower than last week because of factors like lower oil prices, though the national scene masks regional volatility, AAA reported.

The motor club reports a national average retail price for a gallon of gas at $2.34 for Tuesday, a fraction of a percent higher than the previous day, but about a half percent lower than last week. The price at the pump mirrors crude oil prices, which have been trading in a relatively narrow range near the $50 per barrel mark.

The official summer driving season draws to a close in September, though AAA said in its weekly retail market report that markets may get tighter "as demand continues full steam ahead."

Summer demand pressures usually push gasoline prices higher, though the market is balanced somewhat by strong U.S. gasoline and crude oil production. A report from S&P Global Platts, which provides information and benchmark prices for the energy market, said crude oil and gasoline inventories from last week are both expected to show declines, however.

By region, the West Coast is the most expensive market in the country and prices at the pump were likely skewed higher by the demand pressures from tourists hitting the area to move into the path of totality for Monday's solar eclipse. Oregon prices jumped 10 cents per gallon and the regional market overall was strained by a decline in gasoline inventory levels for the third week in a row.

The Great Lakes market is the most volatile in the nation, with Indiana leading the pack with a 10 cent decline in retail gasoline prices. That trend could reverse, however, because AAA said inventory levels usually follow gasoline prices lower. The drain on regional gasoline inventory levels last week was the largest in the country.

A federal market report said the national average price for gas is about 2 cents less per gallon than the forecast for the summer driving season. The full-year average price is expected to be $2.33 per gallon for both 2017 and 2018.

Crude oil prices spiked Friday on signs of a slowdown in U.S. exploration and production activity, though forward-looking seasonal issues suggest prices could moderate and bring relief to drivers.

Crude oil prices were moving between slight gains and losses early Tuesday given some competing trends at play in the migration toward market balance.

Global crude oil inventory levels have been on a steady decline, but remain above the five-year average. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries aims to cut into the surplus with managed production declines, but output from some member states remains robust. Libya and Nigeria are two members exempt from the agreement because of national security concerns and any changes in their output can have day-to-day impacts on the price of oil.

Crude oil prices spiked Friday after a report of declining exploration and production activity in the United States. Australian energy company BHP Billiton, meanwhile, said Tuesday it was looking to sell off its shale portfolio in an effort to create more value.

A market report from Saxo Bank in Denmark said that, before the open of trading in the United States, crude oil looked "directionless" ahead of data releases from the American Petroleum Institute and the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Looking ahead, however, the price for oil could face pressure as demand slumps in the waning months of the year.

After slight gains in overnight trading, the price of crude oil was losing traction early Tuesday. The price for Brent, the global benchmark for the price of oil, was down 0.39 percent at 9:15 a.m. EDT to $51.46 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark, down 0.27 percent to $47.40 per barrel.

A survey of analysts' sentiment from S&P Global Platts revealed expectations of a 3.7 million barrel draw on crude oil inventories and a 1.3 million drain on gasoline supplies. Those figures would normally be bullish, though Platts Oil Futures Editor Geoffrey Craig said in an emailed report that production is something to consider. At about 9.5 million barrels per day, U.S. oil production is the highest it's been since July 2015.

API releases its data after U.S. trading ends Tuesday afternoon. EIA releases its data midway through the trading morning on Wednesday.

On the OPEC front, representatives met Monday to consider the impact of the balancing effort and suggestions emerged Tuesday that the fate of the multilateral efforts is coming into question. Parties to the agreement opted to extend it into March during meetings earlier this year.

Elsewhere, faith in the United States could be tested as U.S. President Donald Trump attends a rally Tuesday evening in Arizona. The visit comes after questions were raised over his response to a deadly incident at rallies in Charlottesville, N.C. If the president aims to use the forum to announce a pardon for former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, found guilty of contempt for not obeying a court order to stop targeting immigrants, "it will be clear that his true intent is to enflame emotions and further divide our nation," Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said in a statement.

Discovery could lead to new catalyst design to reduce nitrogen oxides in diesel exhaust
West Lafayette IN (SPX) Aug 21, 2017
Researchers have discovered a new reaction mechanism that could be used to improve catalyst designs for pollution control systems to further reduce emissions of smog-causing nitrogen oxides in diesel exhaust. The research focuses on a type of catalyst called zeolites, workhorses in petroleum and chemical refineries and in emission-control systems for diesel engines. New catalyst desi ... read more

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