Oil rises as U.S. inventories fall

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U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell 87 cents to settle at $64.30 a barrel, a 1.3 percent loss.

US crude inventories fell by 2.62 MMbbl last week, the EIA said Wednesday.

US crude stocks fell unexpectedly last week as imports dropped, and gasoline and distillate inventories also declined, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

Still, surging USA crude oil production, which has risen by more than a fifth since mid-2016, to 10.38 million bpd, has been looming over oil markets.

Oil prices fell on Thursday as investors took profits after this week's rally and as US stock markets fell, but losses were limited by the continuing efforts of OPEC and its allies to curb supplies.

But the confident mood in the oil market has been tempered by USA crude production, which climbed to a record 10.4 million barrels per day last week, putting US output ahead of Saudi Arabia and closing in on Russia's 11 million bpd.

Brent Crude
Daily June Brent Crude

Brent crude futures for May delivery fell 48 cents to $68.99 a barrel, a 0.7 percent loss, by 1:31 p.m. EDT (1731 GMT) having retreated from a session peak of $69.70, close to its highest level since early February. "Inventories dropped as refineries ramped up activity earlier", while "low crude imports and elevated exports additionally reduced available supplies".

"United States bank Goldman Sachs said Opec was "likely to overshoot on the inventory rebalancing", and as a result, it saw Brent reaching $82.50 per barrel by mid-year".

USA production growth has partly been countered by the deal to cut output by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and their allies. While investors continue to weigh surging United States crude production, the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies have concluded that the market will rebalance between the second and third quarter of this year.

Still, whether the decline in American inventories can reassure OPEC is uncertain.

One of the options is looking at the past seven years of inventories in OECD countries. By that measure, in the US, stockpiles are still 28 MMbbl higher than the target. The decline comes as OPEC saw record compliance with production-cut targets in February as the group continues efforts to drain a global glut.

The International Energy Agency said last week that Venezuela, where an economic crisis has cut oil production by nearly half since early 2005 to well below 2 million bpd, was "clearly vulnerable to an accelerated decline", and that such a disruption could tip global markets into deficit despite soaring USA output.

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