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Refined Products

Recap: WTI trimmed early losses as traders responded to the 4.2 million barrel decrease in U.S. crude oil inventories. Expectations were calling for a draw of 0.2 million barrels. Also supporting the move was a 212,000 barrel drop in stockpiles held at Cushing, OK, the NYMEX delivery point. September WTI settled at $48.79, up 81 cents and September Brent finished up 8 cents at $53.38.

Products were mixed in reaction to the inventory numbers for both gasoline and distillates. Rbob finished with a gain of 66 points to settle at $1.7550, while heating oil slipped 63 points to settle at $1.61.22.

Fundamental News: According to sources, Saudi Arabia is planning to pull back from record high levels of production at the end of the summer when domestic energy subsides. The reduction in production could begin as soon as September and would amount to about 200,000 to 300,000 bpd, bringing production to about 10.3 million bpd. It produced about 10.56 million bpd in June. The planned reduction likely would not affect exports as part of the country's recent production levels were related to its domestic energy needs.

The Speaker of the US House of Representatives John Boehner said he supports lifting a 40 year old ban on crude oil exports. He said the ban was created during a time when oil markets were much different than they are now and added that the lifting of the ban could create 1 million jobs.

Russia's Energy Minister Alexander Novak said the country has no plans to discuss oil production cuts with OPEC during Secretary General Abdullah al-Badri's visit to Moscow on Thursday.

The global head of commodities research at Goldman Sachs, Jeffrey Currie predicted oil prices would fall to $45/barrel by October. He expects energy prices to remain lower for a longer period of time.

Any attempt by Iran to sell to China millions of barrels of ultra light crude stored in tankers is likely to be thwarted by poor refining margins and an outage at a major importer of oil. Turkey's Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said oil flow on Iraq's pipeline carrying Kirkuk oil to Turkey's Mediterranean port of Ceyhan has been halted after saboteurs attacked it. He said the pipeline has been damaged. However he added that there was no impact so far on the country's oil supply.

IIR reported that US oil refiners are expected to shut in 268,000 bpd of capacity in the week ending July 31st, down 134,000 bpd from the previous week. IIR expects offline capacity to fall to 177,000 bpd in the week ending August 7th. 

The Federal Reserve cited progress in the US job market, a sign it remains on course to raise interest rates in September or later this year. It however noted its concern over low inflation which is creating caution among officials and could convince them to delay. The Fed concluded its two day policy meeting with a decision to leave its benchmark federal funds interest rate near zero.

Early Market Call - as of 9:00 AM EDT

WTI - Sep $49.24, up 45 cents

RBOB - Aug $1.8476, up 2.52 cents

ULSD - Aug $1.6145. up 1.62 cents

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Natural Gas

On Wednesday, July 29th – the settlement day for the August Contract – the front-month NYMEX Natural Gas Futures Contracts opened at $2.847, more than two cents above Tuesday’s closing price of $2.821.  Ascending gradually into the market, August rose slightly for the first thirty minutes of the day, reaching as-high-as $2.861.  Tumbling lower until 10:00AM, prices found support near $2.845 where they remained for the balance of the morning.  The afternoon cautiously ticked higher to the $2.86 level by 12:50PM, where the contract briefly encountered resistance, until surging higher 1:40PM. Rising to achieve the intraday high of $2.890 by 2:10PM, prices then faded as August ultimately settled higher at $2.886 on Wednesday.

The EIA Natural Gas Storage Report is due out at 10:30AM today.  The report is expected to show a 53 BCF injection to storage for the week ended July 24th.  This compares to an 88 BCF injection at this time last year and a five-year average injection amount of 48 BCF.

This morning in Globex, WTI Crude was up 25 cents; Natural Gas was down two cents; Heating Oil was up two cents and Gasoline was up four cents

Cash prices were slightly higher in New York and lower in New England.

Natural Gas Glossary

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