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Oil Moves Higher As EIA Reports Huge Crude Draw

Crude oil prices jumped higher today after the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimated inventories in the country had shed 12.5 million barrels in the week to May 19.

A day earlier, the American Petroleum Institute had estimated that crude oil inventories in the U.S. had gone up/down by a sizable 6.7 million barrels, which surprised traders and prompted increased oil buying that boosted prices.

A week earlier, the EIA had estimated a crude oil inventory build of 5 million barrels, which, however, failed to move prices depressed by fears of a U.S. debt default.

At 455.2 million barrels, the EIA said, U.S. crude oil inventories are 3% below the five-year seasonal average.

In fuels, the EIA estimated inventory draws for the week to May 19.

Gasoline stocks shed 2.1 million barrels, which compared with a draw of 1.4 million barrels for the previous week.

Gasoline production averaged 10.3 million barrels daily last week, which compared with 9.5 million barrels daily a week earlier.

Middle distillate inventories last week fell by 600,000 barrels. This compared with a modest inventory increase to the tune of 100,000 barrels for the previous week.

Middle distillate production averaged 4.9 million barrels daily last week, which compared with 4.9 million barrels daily the week before.

The API’s report of an inventory decline yesterday pushed prices higher, especially as it coincided with a statement by the Saudi energy minister that short sellers in the oil space should “watch out”.

"Speculators, like in any market they are there to stay, I keep advising them that they will be ouching, they did ouch in April, I don't have to show my cards I'm not a poker player... but I would just tell them watch out," Abdulaziz bin Salman said, as quoted by Reuters.

At the time of writing, Brent crude was trading at $78.03 per barrel with West Texas Intermediate at $74.12 per barrel, both up from opening.

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By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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