Sunday, 19 August, 2018

Oil prices fall after surprise rise in US inventories

Crude oil storage tanks are seen from above at the Cushing oil hub in Cushing Oklahoma Crude oil storage tanks are seen from above at the Cushing oil hub in Cushing Oklahoma
Russell Knight | 20 July, 2018, 12:42

But the spectre of oversupply quickly returned, with a rise of more than 600,000 barrels in USA crude stockpiles, reported by the American Petroleum Institute late on Tuesday. USA crude oil production last week hit 11 million barrels per day (bpd) for the first time in the nation's history. The report also highlights that crude oil production growth in United States crude has been relentless, with activity picking up pace in the last 18 months, supported by rising crude oil prices and a continuation in intensity and pace of completions. Russian Federation and Saudi Arabia are helping Trump's cause by increasing their supply so it will be a challenge for bullish traders to overcome resistance on the basis of increased gasoline demand.

Prices have been dragged down by concerns about oversupply as some production returned after outages, while trade tensions between the U.S. and China stoked fears of damage to their economies and commodities demand. U.S. crude stocks rose by 5.8 million barrels last week, compared with a forecast for a decline of 3.6 million barrels.

The price of U.S. crude oil is dropping still further as oversupply in the market continues to dominate trading.

An industry source familiar with the matter said Saudi oil exports in June were about 7.2 million bpd, while the latest official figures show May exports at 6.984 million bpd.

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Phil Flynn, an analyst at Price Futures Group, remarked, "We're back to worrying about a tight market" - referring to the idea that the gas and distillate draws indicate strong consumer demand. This new alliance between Saudi Arabia and Russian Federation has meant that OPEC can have an outsized impact on world oil prices. Iranian official urges Trump not to use US strategic oil reserve. If the purchases of Iranian oil continue, the U.S. threatens to impose penalties on these companies.

A sharp jump in United States crude oil inventories also added to the bearish tone in the market. The Trump administration is considering a test sale of about 5 million barrels of oil and then releasing about 30 million barrels into the market.

Crude oil from Iran, which traditionally has stable diplomatic relations with Japan, is relatively cheap compared with oil from other countries. In February, Iran's Oil Ministry said the country had hoped to raise this to 4.7mbpd within the next four years.

"If this happens, (it) means Trump is asking Saudi Arabia to walk (away) from OPEC", he told Reuters. And even if OPEC is in compliance, we are seeing signs of more oil production. The gains represent a rapid increase in output, as the data, if confirmed by monthly figures, puts the United States as the second largest producer of crude oil, just behind Russian Federation, which was producing 11.2 million bpd in early July. For decades, the WTI contract based in Cushing, has been the benchmark for US oil prices, but Houston has surpassed Cushing in terms of importance.

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