U.S. crude oil inventories went up by 8 million barrels in the week to January 18, the Energy Information Administration said in its latest weekly petroleum status report.
At 445 million barrels, these were about 9 percent above seasonal limits, the authority said, a day after the American Petroleum Institute estimated inventories had risen by 6.55 million barrels, which apparently surprised market players, as do most API weekly inventory releases these days.
In fuels, the EIA reported a build of 4.1 million barrels for gasoline and a decline of 600,000 barrels for distillate fuel. This compares with a 7.5-million-barrel increase for gasoline inventories a week earlier and a 3-million barrel build in distillates.
Gasoline production averaged 9.6 million barrels daily last week, and distillate fuel production averaged 5.2 million bpd, down from 5.4 million bpd the previous week. Refineries processed an average 17 million bpd of crude oil in the reporting period, versus 17.2 million bpd in the previous week.
Oil prices began to settle this week, despite persistent worry about the global economy, after reports emerged that Asian government were considering fiscal stimulus measure in anticipation of the slowdown.
A forecast from the Energy Information Administration that shale oil production will continue growing acted as a tailwind for WTI, countering warnings from elsewhere that shale growth will slow down this year.
This year, the EIA expects U.S. production to grow by 1.7 million bpd, with the rise slowing down further in 2020 to 1.2 million bpd, the agency said in its latest Short-Term Energy Outlook released last week. Meanwhile, other forecasts, from the IEA and OPEC, also see U.S. oil leading the rise in supply this year, but they also see global demand stable at 1.3 million and 1.4 million bpd, respectively, a slowdown from 2018 but not a too significant one.
At the time of writing WTI was trading at US$52.82 a barrel, with Brent crude at US$60.96 a barrel.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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