Oil prices fall on surging US crude supply, economic slowdown

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Reuters

KEY POINTS
  • International benchmark Brent futures were at $71.44 per barrel at 0424 GMT, down 29 cents, or 0.4 percent, from their last close.
  • U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures were at $64.28 per barrel, down 33 cents, or 0.5 percent, from their previous settlement.
RT: Oil Russia Bashneft company 150128
Sergei Karpukhin | Reuters

Oil prices fell on Thursday, pressured as U.S. crude stockpiles surged to their highest levels in almost 17 months amid record production and as economic concerns cast doubt over growth in demand for fuel.

International benchmark Brent futures were at $71.44 per barrel at 0424 GMT, down 29 cents, or 0.4 percent, from their last close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures were at $64.28 per barrel, down 33 cents, or 0.5 percent, from their previous settlement.

U.S. crude inventories rose 7 million barrels to 456.6 million barrels in the last week, their highest since November 2017, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

U.S. crude oil production remained at a record 12.2 million barrels per day (bpd), making the United States the world’s biggest oil producer ahead of Russia and Saudi Arabia.

There are also concerns that an economic slowdown will soon dent fuel consumption after the International Monetary Fund this week downgraded its global growth forecast to the lowest in a decade.

Despite the surge in U.S. supply and the economic concerns, global oil markets remain tight amid supply cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), U.S. sanctions on oil exporters Iran and Venezuela, and escalating fighting in Libya.

”(Oil markets will remain tight) as long as Saudi Arabia continues to back the production cut deal as aggressively as it has done so far,” said Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank.

Brent and WTI have risen by around 30 and 40 percent respectively since the start of the year.

“Pressure to global supplies continues to mount because of sanctions-linked problems in Iran and Venezuela and rising geopolitical risk in Libya,” said Stephen Innes, head of trading at SPI Asset Management.

Beyond the short-term outlook for oil markets, a lot of attention is on the future of demand amid the rise of alternative fuels for transport.

“We believe global demand has another 10 million barrels bpd of growth, with over half from China,” Bernstein Energy said in a note on Thursday.

Current oil demand stands around 100 million bpd.

Bernstein said it expected oil demand to peak around 2030, but added that “we expect a long plateau rather than a sharp decline” in consumption after that.

“While no industry lasts forever, the age of oil is far from over,” Bernstein said.

Oil prices rise on Beijing-Washington trade hopes, upbeat China data

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  • Both international benchmark Brent and U.S. crude futures gained.
  • Optimism that a trade deal could be reached between the United States and China was boosted when U.S. President Donald Trump said talks were going “very well”.
  • Markets were also supported by upbeat Chinese trade data, including for crude oil.

A Petrobras oil platform floats in the Atlantic Ocean near Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro.

Getty Images
A Petrobras oil platform floats in the Atlantic Ocean near Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro.

Oil prices rose on Thursday, buoyed by hopes that potential progress in the latest Sino-U.S. tariff talks would improve the global economic outlook, and as China’s trade figures including crude imports beat forecasts.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $54.16 per barrel at 0413 GMT, up 26 cents, or 0.5 percent, from their last settlement.

International Brent crude oil futures were up 37 cents, or 0.6 percent, at $63.98 a barrel.

Optimism that a trade deal could be reached between the United States and China was boosted when U.S. President Donald Trump said talks were going “very well”.

“The 90-day truce (on trade) agreed in December will run out on March 1, but given the progress of the talks there could be an extension, which is why there (is) rising optimism that the two leaders will meet later that month,” said Alfonso Esparza, senior market analyst, OANDA.

Markets were also supported by upbeat Chinese trade data, including for crude oil.

China’s crude oil imports in January rose 4.8 percent from a year earlier, customs data showed on Thursday, to an average of 10.03 million barrels per day (bpd), the third straight month that imports have exceeded the 10 million bpd mark.

Not all data pointed to tighter market conditions and higher prices.

Climbing U.S. oil stockpiles weighed on prices. U.S. crude oil inventories rose last week to the highest since November 2017 as refiners cut runs to the lowest since October 2017, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

Crude inventories built for a fourth week in a row, rising 3.6 million barrels to 450.8 million barrels in the week to Feb. 8. Analysts polled by Reuters forecast an increase of 2.7 million barrels.

U.S. crude oil production remained at a record of 11.9 million barrels per day (bpd).

The global oil market will struggle this year to absorb fast-growing crude supply from outside the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), even with the group’s production cuts and U.S. sanctions on Venezuela and Iran, the International Energy Agency said in a report on Wednesday.

The IEA said it expected global oil demand this year to grow by 1.4 million bpd, while non-OPEC supply will grow by 1.8 million bpd.

Oil falls as US maintains record output, inventories climb

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  • Both international Brent and U.S. crude futures slipped.
  • U.S. crude oil inventories climbed by 1.3 million barrels in the week that ended Feb. 1 to 447.21 million barrels, data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed on Wednesday.
  • Meanwhile, average weekly U.S. crude oil production remained at the record 11.9 million barrels per day (bpd) it reached in late 2018.

A truck used to carry sand for fracking is washed in a truck stop in Odessa, Texas.

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A truck used to carry sand for fracking is washed in a truck stop in Odessa, Texas.

Oil prices fell on Thursday after U.S. crude inventories rose and as production levels in the country held at record levels, but OPEC-led supply cuts and Washington’s sanctions against Venezuela supported markets.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $53.84 per barrel at 0247 GMT, down 17 cents, or 0.3 percent, from their last settlement.

International Brent crude oil futures were down by 26 cents, or 0.4 percent, at $62.43 per barrel.

U.S. crude oil inventories climbed by 1.3 million barrels in the week that ended Feb. 1 to 447.21 million barrels, data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, average weekly U.S. crude oil production remained at the record 11.9 million barrels per day (bpd) it reached in late 2018. The United States is currently the world’s largest oil producer, ahead of traditional top suppliers Russia and Saudi Arabia.

Countering the rising U.S. crude output and inventories are voluntary supply cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) aimed at tightening the market and propping up prices.

Meanwhile, U.S. sanctions against Venezuela’s oil industry are expected to freeze the sales proceeds of 500,000 bpd of crude exports.

“The cumulative effect of OPEC-led output cuts along with additional U.S. sanctions on Venezuela’s state oil company … bolstered market sentiment,” said Benjamin Lu of Singapore-based brokerage Phillip Futures in a note on Thursday.

French Bank BNP Paribas cut its estimated average of 2019 prices for Brent to $68 per barrel and for WTI to $61 per barrel, both down by $8 from its previous outlook.

“We expect the oil price to rise in the first-half of 2019 on tightening supply conditions and decline in the second-half on weakening economic activity and an increase in U.S. crude exports to international markets,” said French bank BNP Paribas.

US crude rises 1.6%, settling at $45.33, but posts third straight weekly loss

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  • Oil prices rise, recovering slightly from heavy losses this week, but post their third straight weekly loss.
  • Crude futures remain close to the lowest levels in over a year as rising U.S. inventories and concern over global economic growth rattle markets.
  • U.S. crude inventories were down by 46,000 barrels in the week to Dec. 21, the Energy Information Administration said on Friday.

Oil pumpjacks in the Permian Basin oil field are getting to work as crude oil prices gain.

Spencer Platt | Getty Images
Oil pumpjacks in the Permian Basin oil field are getting to work as crude oil prices gain.

Oil prices ticked were higher on Friday after a week of volatile trading, but shed early gains on profit-taking ahead of the New Year holiday as global crude benchmarks hovered near their lowest levels in more than a year.

U.S. light crude ended Friday’s session up 72 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $45.33, after reaching $46.22 a barrel earlier.

Brent crude oil futures were up 6 cents at $52.22 a barrel by 2:28 p.m. ET, having earlier risen to $53.80 a barrel. It had dropped 4.2 percent on Thursday.

Both benchmarks posted their third straight week of losses, with Brent dropping about 3 percent and WTI falling roughly half a percent.

Critchlow:  It seems unlikely oil will firm up in the first half of 2019

Critchlow: It seems unlikely oil will firm up in the first half of 2019  

Oil prices fell to their lowest levels in a year and a half this week and are down more than 20 percent for the year, depressed by rising supply and concerns about the health of the global economy.

U.S. crude inventories were down by 46,000 barrels in the week to Dec. 21, the Energy Information Administration said on Friday. Gasoline stocks rose by 3 million barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a gain of 28,000 barrels.

“The report was modestly bearish, as crude oil stocks held steady versus expectations of a sizeable decline,” said John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital Management in New York. “The net effect of the report should keep prices fairly flat ahead of the weekend.”

Traders appeared to be squaring their books ahead of expected light volumes on Monday and a market closure on Tuesday for the New Year’s Day holiday.

“Looks like some people in the U.S. and UK got a nice opportunity to bail out of longs,” Sukrit Vijayakar, principal and trader at Trifecta Consultants in Mumbai, told Reuters Global Oil Forum.

Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia-Pacific at futures brokerage Oanda in Singapore, said crude prices had been pressured by slowing economic growth “coupled with the expectation of strong U.S. production in the new year.”

Trader sees another rally ahead for crude

Trader sees another rally ahead for crude  

The United States has emerged as the world’s biggest crude producer this year, pumping 11.6 million barrels per day, more than both Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Earlier this month, OPEC and its allies, including Russia, agreed to cut output by 1.2 million bpd, or more than 1 percent of global consumption, starting in January.

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Thursday that Russia would cut its crude output by between 3 million and 5 million tonnes in the first half of 2019 as part of the deal.

Novak also told reporters the U.S. decision to allow some countries to trade Iranian oil after putting Tehran under sanctions was one of the key factors behind the OPEC deal.

Imports of Iranian crude oil by major buyers in Asia hit their lowest level in more than five years in November as the U.S. sanctions on Iran’s oil exports took effect last month, government and ship-tracking data showed.

Oil dips on swelling US inventories, but expected OPEC supply cut stems losses

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  • U.S. commercial crude oil inventories rose to their highest level since December 2017 last week, according to a weekly report by the Energy Information Administration.
  • The Middle East-dominated producer cartel of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) next meets on Dec. 6.

A truck used to carry sand for fracking is washed in a truck stop in Odessa, Texas.

Getty Images
A truck used to carry sand for fracking is washed in a truck stop in Odessa, Texas.

Oil prices dipped on Thursday after U.S. crude inventories increased to their highest level since December 2017 amid concerns of an emerging global glut, although an expected supply cut by producer cartel OPEC prevented further drops.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures, were at $53.38 per barrel at 0141 GMT, 25 cents, or 0.5 percent below their last settlement.

Front-month Brent crude oil futures were at $63.28 per barrel, down 20 cents, or 0.3 percent, from their last close.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories rose by 4.9 million barrels to 446.91 million barrels last week, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said in a weekly report on Wednesday. That was the highest level since December last year.

U.S. crude oil production remained at a record 11.7 million barrels per day (bpd), the EIA said.

“U.S. inventory data…continued to show significant supply builds, which comes on the back of sustained record U.S. crude oil production,” said Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia-Pacific at futures brokerage Oanda in Singapore.

Some analysts have warned that despite high global production, oil markets have little spare capacity to handle unforeseen supply disruptions.

However, Innes said that once U.S. pipeline bottlenecks were alleviated, which he said he expected in 2019, “the entire notion of a tight global spare capacity argument goes down the well”.

Fearing a glut, the Middle East-dominated producer cartel of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is considering supply cuts when it next meets on Dec. 6, although some members, like Iran, are expected to resist any voluntary reductions.

“While there is talk that OPEC plus Russia may again agree to a production cut, the concern is that not all relevant parties will be able to come to an agreement,” said William O’Loughlin, investment analyst at Australia’s Rivkin Securities.

“Saudi Arabia has hinted at a unilateral cut, but it will want to be careful about annoying the U.S. given that President Trump has been vocal about his desire for lower oil prices,” he added.

Trump on Wednesday praised Saudi Arabia over recent oil prices and called for prices to go even lower.

“Oil prices getting lower. Great! Like a big Tax Cut for America and the World. Enjoy!… Thank you to Saudi Arabia, but let’s go lower!” Trump tweeted.