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Energy View: Thursday September 13

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A bullish EIA report showing a draw in crude inventories in the U.S. propelled energy market for the second day in a row with WTI gaining $1.12 a barrel to push it above the $70 threshold to $70.37 is highest trading levels going back to mid-July. Dated Brent gained ground although not as prominently as WTI with a 58 cent improvement to $79.74 a barrel, while fuels rose 2 cents for gasoline and nearly 4 for diesel.

The rise in market valuations was connected to both concerns over several tropical storms churning and possibly threatening the U.S. as well as an unexpected drop in oil inventories of some 5.3 million barrels, to their lowest level since February 2015 and a lighter than expected build in refined product stockpiles. However, markets this morning are selling off in light of the downgrading of Hurricane Florence from a Category 4 to a Category 2 storm and OPEC’s view that they will be able to plug an anticipated growth in oil demand of some 1.4 million barrels in 2019. While such pronouncements are taken at face value, experts are weighing in to suggest that with Iranian sanctions taking effect in November and the continued decline in Venezuelan output, the longer term picture looks decidedly tight for global crude supplies, America being the world’s leader in oil production, notwithstanding.

For drivers in the areas affected by Hurricane Florence, gas prices continue to remain relatively stable with the Virginia average down 2 cents since yesterday to $2.61 a gallon, North Carolina up 1.2 cents to $2.66 and South Carolina down 1 cent to $2.57 a gallon. Meanwhile, the national average stands at just under $2.85 a gallon which remains relatively unchanged and within a penny of prices seen last week and indeed, the last month, but still, 22 cents above levels paid last year. The picture remains the same for diesel which stands a $3.18 a gallon or 48 cents a gallon higher than on this same day last year.

Given the evacuation notices for states affected ahead of Hurricane Florence, GasBuddy activated its fuel availability and outages tracker to help drivers know which stations are serving gasoline, diesel and have power. We will continue the fuel tracker for the remainder of the period in which the emergency continues. The information is available to all at the following link: https://business.gasbuddy.com/florence-live-updates-fuel-availability-station-outages/

Senior Petroleum Analyst, Canada

Dan is a skilled and noted bilingual (French and English) consumer advocate specializing in energy and current affairs. Known as Canada's “Gas Guru,” he founded tomorrowsgaspricetoday.com to better help motorists anticipate the price of gasoline in advance across Canada. He has over three decades of experience in the petroleum industry, as a parliamentarian and an analyst.