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Surprise Crude Inventory Build Sends Oil Lower

The American Petroleum Institute (API) reported a large surprise crude oil inventory build of 6.55 million barrels for the week ending Jan 18, compared to analyst expectations that we would see a small draw in crude oil inventories of 42,000 barrels.

Last week, the API reported a crude draw of 560,000 barrels. A day later, the EIA showed that inventories had drawn down 2.7 million barrels from the previous week.

In the early trading hours on Tuesday in the run up to today’s release from the API, crude oil prices recovered somewhat from Monday’s economic growth slowdown-driven price slide. But as the trading day drew near its close, prices began falling again as skittish traders balked at Russia’s slight uptick in production in January instead of an expected slowdown per its commitment to cutting production in league with OPEC.

At 4:18pm EST on Tuesday, WTI was trading down on the day $0.41 (-0.77%) per barrel at $52.60—a rise of less than $1 per barrel week on week. Brent crude was trading down $0.39 (-0.63%) at $61.11.  

Inventories in the Cushing, Oklahoma facility this week rose by 360,000 barrels.

The API this week reported a large build in gasoline inventories as well for week ending January 18 in the amount of 3.64 million barrels. Analysts had predicted a smaller build of 2.655 million barrels for the week.

US crude oil production as estimated by the Energy Information Administration showed that production for the week ending January 11—the latest information available—had risen to 11.9 million bpd—a new record for the United States.

Distillate inventories also increased this week by 2.57 million barrels, compared to a smaller expected build of 1.565 million barrels.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration report on crude oil inventories is due to be released on Thursday at 11:00a.m. EST.

By 4:34pm EST, WTI was trading down at $52.61 and Brent was trading down at $61.11.

By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com

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