Oil prices wilt on surprise build-up in US crude stocks

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Reuters
KEY POINTS
  • Brent futures fell by 44 cents, or 0.7%, to $63.90 per barrel by 0342 GMT.
  • U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude slipped by 33 cents, or 0.6%, to $58.91 a barrel, down from a more than two-month high reached on Tuesday.
GP: Oil tank North Dakota 190926
A photo taken on August 19, 2013 shows a worker checking oil tanks at an oil well near Tioga, North Dakota.
Karen Bleier | AFP | Getty Images

Oil prices fell on Wednesday after industry data showed an unexpected build in crude inventory in the United States and as investors waited for news on whether a fresh round of U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods would take effect on Sunday.

Brent futures fell by 44 cents, or 0.7%, to $63.90 per barrel by 0342 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude slipped by 33 cents, or 0.6%, to $58.91 a barrel, down from a more than two-month high reached on Tuesday.

“At this time, everyone was expecting we would have strong draws in the inventory, but it was a build,” said Tony Nunan, oil risk manager at Japanese trading house Mitsubishi Corp.

U.S. crude stocks clocked a surprise rise in the most recent week while gasoline and distillate inventories also rose, data from industry group the American Petroleum Institute shows.

Crude inventories rose by 1.4 million barrels in the week to Dec. 6 to 447 million, while analysts were expecting a fall of 2.8 million barrels.

The weekly EIA report is due later on Wednesday.

U.S.-China trade tensions continue to cloud the outlook for demand, with a Dec. 15 deadline for the next round of U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports approaching fast.

With the market expected to be over-supplied next year on growing shale oil output and new projects coming on stream, any additional tariffs will dent demand and, in turn, prices, said Mitsubishi’s Nunan.

“The big question is how will the demand hold up?” he said.

“The demand slowdown in growth, a lot of it seems to be coming from the (U.S.-China) trade war. If tariffs go into effect, sentiments will turn bearish again.”

The U.S. is on track to become a net exporter of crude and fuel for the first time on record on an annual basis in 2020, the EIA said, due to a production surge that has dramatically reduced its dependence on foreign oil.

Also adding to global supply, U.S. producers Exxon Mobil and Hess plan to export the first-ever shipments of crude oil from Guyana between January and February, a milestone for Latin America’s newest oil producer, sources with knowledge of the plans said.

Elsewhere, Venezuela’s crude output in November jumped more than 20% from the prior month to the highest level since the United States tightened sanctions on state oil company PDVSA in August, two people with knowledge of PDVSA data said this week.

Investors are also eyeing other major events this week including the British election on Thursday and U.S. and European Central Bank meetings for further trading cues.

US oil edges up after 3 percent drop on big stock build

CNBC

  • U.S. crude stocks increased by 6.5 million barrels in the previous week, the surge was the fourth straight weekly build and almost triple of what analysts had forecast, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Oil inched up on Thursday amid ongoing tensions over the death of a prominent Saudi journalist, with prices steadying after a big drop overnight due to a jump in U.S. crude stockpiles.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude for October delivery was up 12 cents, or 0.2 percent, at $69.87 a barrel by 0413 GMT, after falling 3 percent in the previous session to settle below $70 for the first time in a month.

Front-month London Brent crude for December delivery was up 13 cents, or 0.2 percent, at $80.18, having ended down 1.7 percent.

U.S. crude stocks rose 6.5 million barrels last week, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday, the fourth straight weekly build and almost triple what analysts had forecast.

“The impact of the inventory-jump weighed on the market and oil seems bearish,” said Kaname Gokon, a trader in Japan.

“The United States may have to go ahead with sanctions on Saudi Arabia, which could push prices higher, but Russia and other producers are set to increase supplies.”

Inventories rose sharply even as U.S. crude production slipped 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 10.9 million bpd last week due to the effects of offshore facilities closing temporarily for Hurricane Michael.

U.S. lawmakers pointed the finger at the Saudi leadership over the disappearance of prominent Saudi critic and journalist Jamal Khashoggi, suggesting sanctions could be possible.

Saudi Arabia denies that it had any role in Khashoggi’s disappearance.

Western pressure mounted on Riyadh to provide answers, but comments by President Donald Trump suggested the White House may not take additional action against the Saudis, particularly after Saudi Arabia said it will conduct an investigation.

Investors worry Saudi Arabia could use oil supply to retaliate against critics. But Saudi Arabia has assured OPEC that it is “committed, capable and willing” to ensure there will be no shortage in the oil market, OPEC’s secretary-general said on Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia and Kuwait will struggle to resume oil production from jointly operated fields that produced some 500,000 bpd any time soon due to operational differences and souring political ties, sources said on Wednesday.

Signs that Iranian oil exports have been falling more steeply than some in the market expected amid looming U.S. sanctions have underpinned the oil market.

Energy shares in Asia climb as oil prices hold onto gains following US inventory decline

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  • Energy stocks in Asia traded higher on Friday.
  • Oil prices touched a two-week high in the last session after data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration showed U.S. crude stocks unexpectedly declined.
  • The S&P/ASX 200 energy sub-index was up 0.68 percent. Gains were also seen in oil-related stocks listed in Japan and Australia.
Pump jacks and wells are seen in an oil field on the Monterey Shale formation, March 23, 2014, near McKittrick, Calif.

Getty Images
Pump jacks and wells are seen in an oil field on the Monterey Shale formation, March 23, 2014, near McKittrick, Calif.

Oil-related stocks in Asia traded higher on Friday as oil prices recorded slight gains after touching two-week highs in the previous session.

Those gains in oil prices had come after U.S. crude stocks unexpectedly declined by 1.6 million barrels in the week ending Feb. 16, Reuters said, citing data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. That compared to the 1.8 million-barrel rise in inventories forecast by experts.

Woodside Petroleum, Australia’s largest oil and gas company, was up 0.56 percent following those increases in prices. Other oil producers also gained: Santos rose 0.39 percent and Oil Search rose 1.46 percent.

More broadly, the S&P/ASX 200 energy sub-index traded higher by 0.68 percent in the afternoon Sydney time.

Energy stocks in Japan saw sharper gains, with oil producer Inpextrading higher by 2.55 percent and Cosmo Energy gaining 4.59 percent. JXTG Holdings, Japan’s largest refiner, was up 3.58 percent.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong-listed shares of Chinese oil producer CNOOCrose 0.88 percent in late morning trade local time. Oil giant China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation, or Sinopec, added 1.11 percent.

Oil prices were mostly steady on Friday. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures advanced 0.05 percent to trade at $62.80 per barrel and Brent crude futures were off by 0.02 percent at $66.38.

“The unexpected fall in oil inventories in the U.S. should see support for crude oil prices remain strong,” said ANZ Research analysts in a Friday morning note.

“Prices were also supported by comments from UAE Energy Minister Suhail Al Mazrouei, who said the worry is undersupply, not oversupply, as demand remains strong amid the constraints on output,” they added.

Crude oil inventories down 1.6 million barrels

Crude oil inventories down 1.6 million barrels