Oil prices rise on lower U.S. crude inventories, global supply risks

Brent Crude

Daily June Brent Crude

Oil prices climbed Wednesday to settle at their highest levels in almost 3 1/2 years, following a surprise decline in weekly US crude supplies and expectations that major oil producers will remain committed to curbing production.

According to the American Petroleum Institute, U.S. crude inventories fell by 1 million barrels last week, to 428 million barrels.

Distillate stockpiles decreased 3.1 million barrels, versus expectations for a 268,000-barrel draw, the EIA data showed, putting overall inventories of these products, which include diesel, heating oil and jet fuel, at levels not seen seasonally since 2014.

Brent crude futures were up US$1.17 at US$72.75 by 1418 GMT, while U.S. WTI crude futures gained US$1.30 to US$67.82, having hit their highest since late 2014 at US$68.08.

Beyond voluntary supply restriction aimed at propping up prices led by the producer cartel of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) since 2017, O'Loughlin said falling output in Venezuela due to its political and economic turmoil was supporting prices. Distillate inventories were also down, by 3.1 million barrels, after a weekly draw of 1 million barrels in the prior seven-day period.

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Fundamentals are indeed weighing on prices: USA oil production exceeded 10.5 million barrels daily two weeks ago and most likely continued to increase last week as well.

West Texas Intermediate closed at $68.47 U.S. on Wednesday, up $1.95 a barrel. Distillate inventories are forecast to fall in the EIA report. That's in contrast to an estimated build of 625,000 barrels from S&P Global Platts. A Bloomberg survey before Energy Information Administration data April 18 predicts an increase of 650,000 barrels. WTI and Brent crude oil could extend their gains if the EIA report shows a decline in crude inventories rather than an increase.

"Gasoline demand was very strong, virtually summer-like".

Oil had fallen earlier this week from the highest in more than three years as geopolitical risks surrounding Syria eased, with Russian President Vladimir Putin now seeking to reduce tensions with the United States, according to sources familiar with the situation. In briefings in recent weeks, senior Saudi officials have conveyed their desire to see crude prices at around $80 or even $100 a barrel, in part due kingdom's planned IPO of Saudi Aramco, according to a report from Reuters, which cited industry sources (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-opec-oil-exclusive/exclusive-opecs-new-price-hawk-saudi-arabia-seeks-oil-as-high-as-100-sources-idUSKBN1HP1LB).

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