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Refined Products

Recap: Oil markets started in positive territory on Wednesday, but reversed quickly after the 10:30 am release of a bearish DOE Inventory Report for the period ended October 17, 2014. DOE crude stocks increased more than the expected 3 Million barrels (MMbs) to 7.1 MMbs, logically following less refining activity due to seasonal maintenance as crude stocks hit the highest level since July 4th at 377.7 MMbs. On another bearish note, the DOE reported that distillate stocks increased 1 MMbs on expectations that distillates would decline.   Gasoline stocks came in as expected, declining 1.3 MMbs.  All markets paused on the unfortunate news of an Islamic terrorist shooting and killing a soldier outside of Canada's Parliament building and then entering the building, and firing at least another 30 shots before the assailant was shot dead. Reports surfaced that there was more than one shooter and kept the Canadian Parliament in lockdown for the entire day. "The shooting comes two days after an Islamic convert ran down two Canadian soldiers with his car, killing one, near Montreal, before being shot and killed by police." (Reuters 10-22-14) This news came as a strong reminder to all market participants about the threat of Islamic terrorism and helped to move markets lower.  Although NYMEX (WTI) Crude had hit a morning high of $83.15, it reversed to a low of $80.22 before settling at $80.52, down $1.97. NYMEX ULSD (HO) hit a high of $2.5322, reversed down to $2.4643 before settling at $2.4734, down 3.98 cents. NYMEX RBOB (Gasoline) hit a high of $2.2251 before sliding down to a low of $2.1484, before settling at $2.1556, down 5.78 cents. ICE Brent Crude, the international crude benchmark, stayed in positive territory the longest but finally was dragged lower by the rest of the complex, settling below $85 to $84.71, down $1.51, helped by a strengthening U.S. dollar.   

Currently, oil markets are up across the board: NYMEX ULSD up 30 points to $2.4764, NYMEX RBOB up 1.35 cents to $2.1691, NYMEX WTI is up 64 cents to $81.16, ICE Brent is up 88 cents to $85.59.

DOE Inventory Report Recap:  For the week ended October 17, 2014, distillate stocks on the East Coast (PADD 1) continue to build despite seasonal refinery maintenance. Luckily, PADD 1 refiner operable capacity utilization rates are higher at 88.6% than the U.S. average of 86.7%, and are 30% higher than last year's rates of 66.6%. For the Northeast, this strong refinery demand is offsetting 2 Canadian refineries that have been off-line for extended maintenance. PADD 1 (East Coast) distillate stocks have increased for the 8th straight week and are now 10.4% higher than last year; this week, they are up .692 MMbs to 43.77 MMbs (see chart below). PADD 1B (Central including NY) distillate inventories were the big winner increasing 1.125 MMbs to 24.04 MMbs and are now 13.6% higher than last year, but are 16.6% below the 5-year average. PADD 1A (New England) distillates also gained last week, closing previous inventory gaps and are 4.9% above last year and 29% lower than the 5-year average.  PADD 1C (Lower) declined .676 MMbs to 11.96 MMbs but is 7.8% higher than last year at this time, and 1.2% above the 5-year average. On the gasoline side, PADD 1 gasoline stocks decreased .175 MMbs to 52.2 MMbs, and were 8.7% lower than last year.

Click here to view today's Refined Products MarketWatch.

Natural Gas

On Wednesday, October 22nd the front month NYMEX Natural Gas Futures Contracts opened at $3.676, more than three cents below Tuesday’s closing price.  After the open, prices fell to $3.668 before bouncing back to the $3.70 level.  The intraday high of $3.709 was recorded around 9:30AM.  As mild weather and bearish demand continued to weigh on the market, November fell to the $3.68 level and traded sideways into the noon weather update.  The afternoon trading session started with another short-lived recovery to the $3.70 level, as prices slid to the intraday low of $3.651 around 1:40PM.  The remainder of the trading session saw November edge higher to close at $3.659 on Wednesday.  

The EIA Natural Gas Storage Report is due out at 10:30AM today.  The report is expected to show a 98 BCF injection to storage for the week ended October 17th.  This compares to an 86 BCF injection at this time last year and a five-year average injection amount of 70 BCF.

This morning in Globex, WTI Crude was up 55 cents; Natural Gas was down almost five cents; and, both Heating Oil and Gasoline were flat.

New England basis values were down for all seasons, while New York basis values were up slightly for all seasons. 

New England cash prices were down and New York cash prices were up.


Natural Gas Glossary

For access to Sprague’s full Natural Gas Market Watch Report including commentary not posted here, please send your request to or call 1-855-466-2842.