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Oil Prices Slip On Bearish EIA Report

The Energy Information Administration reported a crude oil inventory draw of 1.7 million barrels for the first week of 2019, after a 6.9-million-barrel build in the last week of 2018. Inventories remain over the five-year seasonal average, the authority said.

In gasoline, however, the EIA reported a hefty addition of 8.1 million barrels, a day after the American Petroleum Institute depressed oil prices further by estimating a 5.5-million-barrel increase in gasoline inventories and a 10.2-million-barrel build in distillate fuel inventories. According to the EIA, distillate fuel inventories went up by as much as 10.6 million barrels in the week to January 4.

West Texas Intermediate recovered to above US$50 a barrel this week on the news—as announced by President Trump on Twitter—that U.S.-China trade talks were going well, which sparked hope an end was in sight for the trade war that has weighed on international oil prices.

The bilateral talks have gone into their third day today, which was unscheduled, but signs continue to be positive: Reuters quoted U.S. officials as saying the negotiations currently concerned increased Chinese imports of U.S. farm produce and energy commodities. However, Beijing has said it will not make “unreasonable concessions” adding it expected to not be the only side making compromises.

If, however, the sides fail to reach an agreement by March 2, the U.S. will effect a 15-percent increase in tariffs currently of 10 percent on Chinese goods worth US$2 billion. The impact of this move on oil prices would undoubtedly be devastating.

Amid this return of optimism, the EIA reported refineries in the United States had processed an average of 17.6 million barrels daily of crude last week, producing 9.4 million bpd of gasoline and 5.6 bpd of distillate fuels. This compares with daily gasoline production of 9.5 million bpd and distillate fuel production of 5.6 million bpd.

At the time of writing, Brent crude traded at US$60.35 a barrel, up by 2.78 percent from yesterday’s close, with West Texas Intermediate changing hands for US$51.37 a barrel, up 3.19 percent on Tuesday.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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  • Neil Dusseault on January 09 2019 said:
    Um, folks...Prices are coming back up!

    Of course they are: WTI's 2018 low of $42.36 and today's high of $51.50 means a recent upward gain of $9.14/bbl, or almost a 22% increase with very little, if any, down days since.

    Why then should we allow the price to climb any higher until we get an explanation of what OPEC+ and 'algos' plans on doing with that additional $9/bbl?

    What other investment in the world is up 22% within a matter of weeks?
    And why? WTI has been soaring ever since OPEC announced production cuts.
    So, we give them our money now despite API & EIA reporting builds since that announcement? Now we're in 2019 and where's the evidence?

    And, where are we with these China trade agreements?
    Has ANYTHING been agreed upon yet?
    (Yes, hedge fund managers and private equity firms all agreed to bid the price back on up at YOUR expense).
  • william Stewart on January 09 2019 said:
    2 hours ago???? must really be living past tense. prices have went straight up all morning and afternoon. up $2.12 as of 1:00pm east coast time. don' think you people have any idea of what is really going on
  • Mitch on January 09 2019 said:
    Interesting how net imports rose 600k bpd, refinery inputs were down 200k bpd, and yet, oil inventories dropped? And also yet, stockpiles of refined products rose sharply.

    Seems like some sort of holidays anomaly/lag time
  • zorro6204 on January 09 2019 said:
    An unfortunate choice of headlines. With markets so volatile these days, it's probably best to use something neutral.

    I thought the most interesting part of the EIA report was US production, flat again, now over two months of no growth. A lot of DUCS building up, not a lot of new oil moving out of the premium basins. That will change later this year as some new takeaway capacity comes on line, but right now it doesn't look like the US is going to soak up a lot of incremental demand.

    Which means OPEC got their wish, the cuts should work (not that "+" is all that enthusiastic). If they are going to be successful at maintaining price stability, rather than rushing from one side of the boat to the other, they need to anticipate a possible rush of US oil in the second half as pipeline capacity grows and those DUCs start to fly. But they have a good chance of success now, it looks like the great oil panic of 2018 may be over.
  • Alex on January 09 2019 said:
    Why is the title "Oil Prices Slip..." when the last paragraph reads "Brent crude traded at US$60.35 a barrel, up by 2.78 percent from yesterday’s close, with West Texas Intermediate changing hands for US$51.37 a barrel, up 3.19 percent on Tuesday"?

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