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Irina Slav

Irina Slav

Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.

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Oil Prices Higher Despite Bearish Inventory Data


Crude oil prices rose slightly after the Energy Information Administration reported a crude oil inventory build of 1.4 million barrels for the week to November 15.

At 450.4 million barrels, the EIA said, inventories were some 3 percent above seasonal limits.

Analysts had expected a build of 1.062 million barrels, after the EIA reported yet another weekly inventory increase for the first week of November, at 2.2 million barrels.

With last week’s build, the total increase in U.S. crude oil inventories over the past two months comes in at more than 32 million barrels.

Besides rising crude stocks, the EIA also reported a 1.8-million-barrel rise in gasoline stockpiles for the week to November 15, and a 1-million-barrel decline in distillate fuel inventories.

This compares with a 1.9-million-barrel build in gasoline inventories for the week before, and a decline of 2.5 million barrels in distillate fuel inventories.

Refineries last week produced 10.1 million bpd of gasoline, down from 10.2 million bpd a week earlier. Distillate fuel production averaged 5.1 million bpd, compared with 5 million bpd a week earlier. The average crude oil processing rate last week was 16.4 million bpd, compared with 15.9 million bpd a week earlier.

The EIA report followed the American Petroleum Institute’s weekly inventory estimate that said these had added 5.95 million barrels last week. This added pressure on prices already struggling under the double weight of concern about the global economy and diminishing hopes of a U.S.-Chinese trade deal.

It’s worth noting that protests in Iraq and Iran have so far failed to exert any upward pressure on oil prices despite the fact that Iraq is OPEC’s second-largest explorer and escalating protests would eventually threaten production.

Iran’s problems with protesters are less likely to influence prices because of U.S. sanctions that have shrunk the country’s oil exports, but the always present risk of escalation and spillage across borders is a potential tailwind for prices.


By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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  • Mamdouh Salameh on November 20 2019 said:
    You should know by now the correlation between oil prices and announcements by both the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) and the American Petroleum Institute (API) about a build in US crude oil and products inventories. The minute oil prices start to rise, the EIA and API announce either individually or collectively phoney rises in US inventories. These announcements along with the petrodollar are part and parcel of US manipulation of oil prices with the aim of depressing prices.

    However, the global oil market has seen through this ploy and that is why oil prices are rising despite the inventory announcements.

    However, price volatility upwards and downwards nowadays are caused by optimistic statements on the closeness to a deal ending the trade war between the United States and China and pessimistic news about diminishing hopes of a deal.

    The trade war will end when President Trump who has already lost the war with China finds a face-saving formula to tell his people about his loss. Meanwhile, China will not agree to an end to the war except on its own terms including the lifting of American tariffs on Chinese exports.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London
  • r.j. sigmund on November 21 2019 said:
    there was a 85,000 barrel per day net withdrawal of crude from storage this week...doesn't anyone watch what happening to the SPR?

    the 85,000 barrel per day net withdrawal from our total crude inventories was due to a withdrawal of 282,000 barrels per day from our Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which was only partially offset by the 197,000 barrel per day addition to our commercially available stocks of crude oil...

    we have been pulling crude out of the SPR and putting it into commercial storage and recording it as an inventory increase....counting the SPR, our crude inventories are the lowest for mid-November in 5 years, and less than 4% above the average of 2012 to 2014...

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