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Surprise Inventory Build Sends Oil Prices Lower

The American Petroleum Institute (API) reported a surprise crude oil inventory build of 6.9 million barrels for the week ending December 21, compared to analyst expectations that we would see a draw in crude oil inventories of 2.869 million barrels. The surprise build will likely push oil prices further down, continuing the seesaw prices of the Christmas week.

Last week, the API reported a surprise crude build of more than 3 million barrels. A day later, the EIA showed a small draw of 500,000 barrels.

Leading up to today’s data release from the API, which is on a two-day delay due to the Christmas holiday, crude oil prices saw a big dip, with WTI and Brent completely erasing big gains from Wednesday.

At 4:13pm EST on Wednesday, WTI was trading up on the day $4.42 (+10.39%) per barrel at $46.95. And while that significant of a gain is rare indeed, it’s still down from last week’s near-$48 per barrel. Brent crude was trading up $4.76 (+9.38%) at $55.53, still down from this time last week when it was a hair below $58 per barrel.

But Thursday’s prices came and blew yesterday’s gains away, with WTI trading down 3.27% at 11:23am EST at $44.71, and Brent trading down 2.68% at $53.29.

Inventories in the Cushing, Oklahoma facility this week climbed by 1.8 million barrels.

The API reported a build in gasoline inventories as well for week ending December 21 in the amount of 3.7 million barrels. Analysts had predicted a negligible build of 28,000 barrels for the week.

US crude oil production as estimated by the Energy Information Administration showed that production for the week ending December 14 stood at 11.6 million bpd for the second week in a row.

Distillate inventories fell this week by 598,000 barrels, compared to an expected draw of 529,000 barrels.

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


By 4:38pm EST, WTI was trading down at $45.63 and Brent was trading down at $53.81.

By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com

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  • Dan Foster on January 17 2019 said:
    Every year winter comes. We stay home. It's cold outside. No surprise.
  • EHLipton on December 28 2018 said:
    Just one of the Storage tanks being built here at the tank farm in Midland, Texas holds 188'000 barrels of oil,,, that's barrels.
    Everytime ones finished,, it draws on inventory that would've gone onto Cushing.
    So,,, it's gonna be roller coaster till all the pipeline projects and Storage Farms are completed
  • EHLipton on December 28 2018 said:
    Whenever they get close enough to done laying pipe lines, building tank batteries, you will see a more stable floor on price. It takes alot of oil to fill these tanks and pipe lines when they go online.
  • Jim Miceli on December 27 2018 said:
    The way I see it , is like this. HOW LONG can a Company sustain WTI price and make a profit> Can't at all.

    It's like the Gold Companies when Gold hit the floor. Cash Burn. Look at (ABX) over the years in Market Capital.

    Good luck.

    Oil should be ticking upward toward 60.00 USD per barrel.
  • G wilson on December 27 2018 said:
    So they’re off by 1.5BPD. And this makes consistent underestimate of supply.

    Any speculation or hard data as to why they are so consistently underestimating inventory?
  • zorro6204 on December 27 2018 said:
    "WTI and Brent completely erasing big gains from Wednesday"

    What? That's not true at all.

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