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Smaller Than Expected Crude Build Fuels Oil Rally

The American Petroleum Institute (API) estimated on Tuesday a smaller than anticipated crude oil inventory build of 1.7 million barrels for the week ending February 28, compared to analyst expectations of a 3.333-million-barrel build in inventory.

In the previous week, the API estimated a smaller than expected build in crude oil inventories of 1.3-million barrels, while the EIA’s estimates were more bullish, reporting a smaller build of 500,000 barrels for the week.

Oil prices were trading up on Tuesday in the hours leading up to the data release, with the markets bolstered by confidence in OPEC’s ability to band together with Russia to cut production even more oil production in order to stabilize the oil markets.

At 11:37 am EST on Tuesday the WTI benchmark was trading up on the day by $0.25 (+0.53%) at $47.00—but still down more than $3 per barrel week on week. The price of a Brent barrel was also trading up on Tuesday, by $0.11 (+0.21%), at $52.01—down by roughly $2.40 week on week.

The API this week also reported a draw of 3.9 million barrels of gasoline for week ending February 28, after last week’s 74,000-barrel build. This week’s draw compares to analyst expectations for a 2.095-million- barrel draw for the week.

Distillate inventories were down by 1.7 million barrels for the week, compared to last week’s 706,000-barrel draw, while Cushing inventories fell by 1.35 million barrels.

US crude oil production as estimated by the Energy Information Administration showed that production for the week ending February 21 held fast at its all-time high of 13.0 million bpd for the third week in a row.

At 4:45 pm EDT, WTI was trading at $47.20, while Brent was trading at $51.89.

By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com

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