A week after reporting a massive crude oil inventory build of over 21 million barrels, the Energy Information Administration had another unpleasant surprise for inventory watchers: the authority reported an inventory build of 13.8 million barrels for the week to March 5. A draw in gasoline stocks and another one in distillates, however, offset the negative news.
A day earlier, the American Petroleum Institute reported an estimated crude oil inventory build of as much as 12.79 million barrels for the week to March 5, versus analyst expectations of a modest increase to the tune of 816,000 barrels.
Expectations for the EIA estimate were for an 833,000-barrel decline in crude oil inventories.
In gasoline, the EIA reported an inventory decline of 11.9 million barrels, which compared with a decline of 13.6 million barrels estimated for the previous week. Gasoline production averaged 9 million barrels daily, compared with 8.3 million bpd a week earlier.
In distillate fuels, the authority estimated an inventory draw of 5.5 million barrels for the week to March 5. This compared with a decline of 9.7 million barrels for the previous week. Middle distillate production averaged 3.7 million bpd last week, versus 2.9 million bpd a week earlier.
Refineries processed 12.3 million bpd last week, operating at 69 percent of capacity, amid the resumption of normal operation following the Texas Freeze that led to outages and shutdowns.
Oil prices, meanwhile, stalled on their way higher as traders began to take profits, with some betting the downward potential was beginning to exceed the upward momentum.
At the time of writing, Brent crude was trading at $68.01 a barrel, with West Texas Intermediate at $64.52 a barrel, both down from heights hit earlier this week, when Brent briefly topped $70 a barrel. The rally was spurred by OPEC+’s decision to leave production cuts as they are for another month and reports that the supply of crude was tightening globally as demand began to pick up.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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