The EIA this morning reported a build of 2.3 million barrels in U.S. commercial crude oil inventories, a day after the American Petroleum Institute prolonged the oil rally by reporting a bullish 4.15-million-barrel draw to U.S. crude oil inventories.
Earlier this morning, Reuters cited Jeffrey Halley, an analyst at OANDA in Singapore, who forecasted U.S. crude stocks to fall by 2.563 million barrels for the week ending December 16th.
EIA’s official figures peg inventories at 485.4 million barrels, from 483.2 million barrels last week, a drop of 2.6 million barrels.
The report comes amid growing optimism in markets which saw slight gains in the last three sessions that were marked by thin trading ahead of the Christmas holidays.
The current oil rally is looking wobbly, with the amount of oil sitting in tankers off the U.S. Gulf Coast rising to a 4-month high in the wake of inclement weather as the below chart shows.
(Click to enlarge)
The EIA continued to report that refineries in the U.S. processed an average daily volume of 16.7 million barrels of crude, operating at 91.5 percent of capacity and producing 10.2 million barrels of gasoline and 5.1 million barrels of distillate.
Gasoline inventories decreased by 1.3 million barrels in the seven days ending December 16, but are still exceeding the upper limit of the historical average for this time of year. Distillate inventories, however, were down by 1.3 million barrels on the week. Gasoline inventories are now falling after having increased over the past five weeks, breaking with the current winter demand trend. Related: Geothermal On Steroids: Drilling The World’s Hottest Hole
Oil imports stood at 8.5 million bpd, up 1.1 million barrels on the previous week’s 7.4 million bpd.
Oil prices, plagued by November’s high production numbers and uncertainty about the compliance of certain important OPEC members to the agreed production cuts, have staged a bit of a comeback in the course of this week. Prices continue to fight an uphill battle however, against both the U.S. dollar, which is now trading around 14 year highs, and Libya production fears - which remain only fears for now. After today’s EIA Weekly Petroleum Status report, oil prices are expected fall slightly.
At the time of writing, WTI was trading at US$53.17 a barrel, and Brent crude was trading at US$55.23 a barrel.
By Tom Kool of Oilprice.com
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