March 23, 2018

Oil sinks toward $60 as inventory, production gains weigh

14 March 2018, 08:47 | Taylor George

China January-February crude oil output on par with record low

Oil prices stable after two-day decline, but rising US output drags

Last week, the American Petroleum Institute (API) reported a huge build of 5.661 million barrelsof crude oil, with a draw for gasoline that saw an inventory shed of 4.536 million barrels for the fuel.

At 430.9 million barrels, USA crude oil inventories are in the lower half of the average range for this time of year.

"The ever-expanding USA supply continues to pose significant downside risk to oil prices", said Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia/Pacific at futures brokerage OANDA in Singapore.

In its closely watched Monthly Oil Market Report published today, OPEC expects non-OPEC supply in 2018 to increase by 1.66 million bpd, compared to expectations of 1.4 million bpd growth from the previous monthly report.

US crude stocks rose last week, but refined product inventories fell more than expected, with gasoline demand rising to a seven-month high, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday. In all, 24 countries that control about 60% of global crude production pledged to withhold about 1.8 million barrels a day of output-almost 2% of the world's output. Gasoline futures surged 1% as stockpiles sank the most since September.

"Prices in the upper half of the oil price-band will encourage increased supply as U.S. production grows and countries reduce compliance with their production quotas", said Terry Marshall, a Moody's Senior Vice President.

Net U.S. crude imports fell last week by 407,000 barrels per day.

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"With the tug of war between the USA and OPEC the soap opera continues", said Scott Gecas, senior strategic account executive at Long Leaf Trading Group.

It noted that strong global demand growth has also contributed to declining global inventories, offsetting rapid increases in United States shale production.

Official weekly USA crude oil production and inventory figures are due to be published by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) later on Wednesday.

If sanctions are reinstated, Iran's oil exports could drop by 250 000 to 500 000 barrels a day by the end of this year, FGE said in a note.

"This U.S. shale engine is not expected to run out of steam soon", said Stephen Brennock, analyst at brokerage PVM. Output has been helped by the 25% rise in oil prices over the past year, along with improvements in efficiency and technology.

Elsewhere in the energy sector, April natural gas pulled back by 7.5 cents. or 2.7% at $2.711 per million British thermal units.

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