After API’s Tuesday estimate of a 1.047-million-barrel crude oil inventory draw pushed prices higher, the Energy Information Administration added optimism by confirming a draw, albeit a smaller one, at 1.1 million barrels.
Although at 427.6 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are firmly within the seasonal average, every report of a build affects markets in an environment of now chronic nervousness. The nervousness—and the excessive volatility it brings with it—are largely a result of the conflict between fundamentals and various market fears that creates wild price swings.
The latest demonstration was oil prices’ reaction to the Western strikes in Syria, which failed to result in any sustainable price increase after the initial jump. This, according to some analysts, was because fundamentals simply trumped geopolitical concerns and fears of a “third world war.” Other believed it was because an escalation in Syria was already factored into price estimates, so it failed to make a deep enough impression.
Fundamentals are indeed weighing on prices: U.S. oil production exceeded 10.5 million barrels daily two weeks ago and most likely continued to increase last week as well. In its latest monthly Drilling Productivity Report, the EIA said that U.S. shale production is expected to increase by 125,000 bpd in May over April, with the Permian production surging by 73,000 bpd, Eagle Ford’s—by 24,000 bpd, and the Bakken’s by 15,000 bpd. This will no doubt add to worries about prices in spite of the continuing fall in Venezuelan oil production. Related: A Natural Gas Giant Like No Other
In fuels, the EIA reported a gasoline stockpile draw of 3 million barrels, compared with a half-a-million-barrel increase in the week before. Distillate inventories were also down, by 3.1 million barrels, after a weekly draw of 1 million barrels in the prior seven-day period.
Daily gasoline production averaged over 10.2 million barrels in the week to April 13 and distillate production stood at 5.1 million. To compare, a week earlier, refineries churned out 10.2 million bpd of gasoline and 5.3 million bpd of distillate. Daily crude oil processing averaged 16.9 million barrels, down slightly from 17 million barrels a week earlier.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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