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Crude Prices Slip On Major Dip In U.S. Gasoline Demand

Crude oil prices fell slightly today after the Energy Information Administration reported an inventory decline of 2.1 million barrels for the final week of 2021.

This compared with a draw of 3.6 million barrels for the previous week, with the total remaining below the average for this time of the year.

In gasoline, the EIA estimated an inventory build of 10.1 million barrels for the week to December 31, 2021. This compared with a draw of 1.5 barrels for the previous week.

Gasoline production averaged 8.5 million bpd last week, which compared with 10.1 million bpd a week earlier.

Middle distillate stocks added 4.4 million barrels in the final week of 2021, which compared with an inventory decline of 1.7 million barrels for the previous week.

Middle distillate production in the week to December 31 averaged 5.0 million bpd, compared with 4.9 million bpd in the previous week.

Refineries last week processed 15.9 barrels of crude daily, operating at 89.8 percent of capacity. Imports stood at 5.9 million bpd.

Earlier in the week, OPEC+ announced it would add another 400,000 bpd to combined production next month in an unsurprising move that confirmed its confidence demand for crude oil would continue strong this year despite worries about the Omicron variant.

These worries seem to be subsiding, by the way, despite record infection numbers, with the United States breaking all records with 1 million cases reported on Monday. Hospitalization rates with the new variant, however, appear to indeed be lower, giving cause for some measured optimism.

“Though Omicron cases continue to climb in key geographies, the absence of widespread lockdown restrictions will likely keep near-term demand concerns in check,” RBC analysts said in a note on Tuesday, as quoted by CNBC.

At the time of writing, Brent crude was trading at $81.01 a barrel, after touching $80 a barrel yesterday following the OPEC+ meeting. West Texas Intermediate was trading at $77.99 a barrel.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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