The Energy Information Administration reported a build of 1.5 million barrels in U.S. commercial crude oil stockpiles for the week to February 24, continuing a seven-week streak of increases that got markets worried about the global glut.
A day earlier, the American Petroleum Institute estimated inventories to have grown by 2.5 million barrels, falling short of analyst expectations of a 2.8-million-barrel increase.
The EIA also noted that at 520.2 million barrels, commercial stockpiles exceed the seasonal maximum.
Imports in the seven days to February 24 averaged 7.6 million barrels daily, up from 7.3 million bpd in the previous week.
Refineries produced 9.5 million barrels of gasoline per day in the latest reporting period, a slight increase on the previous week’s 9.4 million bpd, with inventories of the fuel falling by half a million barrels. In the previous week, gasoline inventories were down by 2.6 million barrels.
Growing shale oil production is causing serious worry in the OPEC camp as it has become the main factor undermining the cartel’s efforts to prop up crude prices to a level that would encourage new investments in future production.
Yesterday, sources from OPEC said that Saudi Arabia and other big producers from the Gulf are hoping for prices of US$60 a barrel, believing that this price level would motivate new investments while discouraging shale boomers from expanding their output.
This belief seems to be erroneous in the face of facts: shale producers have been adding new drilling rings for the past two months at least, and seem to have no intention of curbing their output growth. The truth is that breakeven levels are falling in the shale patch, which does not seem to be the case for troubled Gulf producers.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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