Energy stocks were finishing lower this afternoon after new government data showed commercial crude oil inventories grew by 5.7 million barrels during the seven days ended June 5 to a record 538.1 million barrels. At last look, the NYSE Energy Sector Index was falling 3% while the SPDR Energy Select Sector ETF was down 4.3%.
Front-month West Texas Intermediate crude oil, however, settled 66 cents higher at $39.60 per barrel, reversing an earlier slide, while the global benchmark Brent crude contract rose 17 cents to $41.35 per barrel. Natural gas futures added a penny to $1.78 per 1 million BTU. The gains were supported by the US Department of Energy saying it purchased 126,00 barrels for the Strategic Oil Reserve.
In company news, Oil-Dri (ODC) rose almost 2.6% after late Tuesday declaring a quarterly cash dividend of $0.26 per common share, representing a 4% increase over its previous distribution and payable August 28 to investors of record on August 14. The sorbent products company also raised the dividend for its Class B shares by $0.0075 to $0.195 apiece.
Ecopetrol (EC) was down 2.8% this afternoon. The Columbian oil and natural gas company and privately held Plug and Play signed a deal to work with selected startup companies to identify and develop new technologies to address future challenges in the energy industry. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Enterprise Products Partners (EPD) fell almost 3%. The company reportedly is working with US authorities to advance its offshore sea port oil terminal project with Enbridge (ENB) following a temporary suspension last week of the application review process. Enterprise told Reuters it was working to provide the US Coast Guard and Maritime Administration with additional project details and reviewing public comments. Enbridge shares recently were down about 1.2%.
Indonesia Energy (INDO) was 7.6% lower this afternoon, giving back an early 5% gain that followed the exploration and production company Wednesday announcing a contract extension with the Indonesian government allowing it to operate the Kruh exploration block through May 2030. The company expects to begin drilling six new wells on the 63,753-acre block on Sumatra before the end of September and significantly increase production over its current 7,582 barrels per month.
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