Oil prices gave up earlier gains to trade lower just after noon on Thursday, while the severe winter storms continued to move east, leaving at least 20 people dead and millions without electricity from Texas to New England.
Meanwhile, winter storms from Texas to New England have left at least 20 people dead, with millions left without electricity at some point since the start of the week.
“Unlike a hurricane or tornado, where the event comes furiously and then ends, this has been a slow-moving disaster,” Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves tweeted on Thursday.
Earlier today, oil prices jumped higher after the Energy Information Administration reported crude oil inventories in the United States had shed 7.3 million barrels in the week to February 12.
This compared with an inventory draw of 5.5 million barrels for the previous week, as estimated by the EIA.
The American Petroleum Institute had a day earlier seen crude oil inventories down 5.8 million barrels for the week to February 12.
Analysts had expected an inventory draw of 2.175 million barrels for the reporting period.
Oil prices have been supported this week by the disruptions to oil production, infrastructure, and refineries that the severe winter weather caused in Texas.
U.S. crude oil production has plunged by as much as 40 percent due to the Polar Vortex that brought freezing temperatures to swathes of the United States, most notably including Texas, where wellheads and pipelines froze.
“The supply shock, one of the biggest that has ever hit the US, is helping to tighten to market further with the Brent crude oil prompt spread now trading at 85 cents as buyers bid up cargoes from the North Sea,” Saxo Bank said on Thursday.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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