Amid restarting refineries along the Gulf Coast and growing optimism about strengthening demand, the EIA dampened spirits somewhat by reporting a substantial increase in crude oil inventories for the week to September 15.
These, according to the authority, stood at 472.8 million barrels as of last Friday, up by 4.6 million barrels from the previous week, which saw a 5.9-million-barrel increase.
S&P Platts said at the start of this week that analysts it polled had forecast a 2.4-million-barrel build in crude oil stockpiles, with the agency warning this would pressure prices, along with a surge in oil imports.
The oil futures editor of the service noted that "U.S. inventory data will reflect post-Hurricane Harvey adjustments for another few weeks, at a minimum, as Gulf Coast refiners, terminals and ports continue the process of returning to normal.”
The American Petroleum Institute had estimated crude inventories to September 15 to have risen by a modest 1.4 million barrels, with gasoline stockpiles dropping by 5.1 million barrels.
The EIA rejected the API’s gasoline figures: according to it, gasoline stockpiles fell by just 2.1 million barrels last week, with average daily production at 9.8 million barrels, down from 9.9 million barrels in the week before. Refineries, the EIA said, processed an average 15.2 million barrels of crude daily last week, up from 14.1 million bpd a week earlier. Related: The World’s Largest Offshore Oil Field Is Back In Action
In imports, the authority reported an 888,000-million-barrel increase to 7.4 million bpd, in tune with S&P Platts’ projections.
In spite of analyst warnings, prices remained stable after the third weekly crude oil inventory increase, suggesting that market players have already factored in the prolonged consequences of Hurricane Harvey and Irma on oil dynamics in the United States.
At the time of writing, WTI traded at US$50.23 a barrel and Brent crude was at US$56.10 a barrel.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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