US Oil Expected To Meet Most Of World's Growth In Demand

Ivan Schwartz
March 9, 2018

The EIA reported late on Wednesday that United States crude inventories rose by 2.4 million barrels in the week to March 2, to 425.91 million barrels, less than the 2.7 million barrel increase analysts had forecast.

At just below 11 million bpd, only Russian Federation now produces more crude oil than the United States, although the International Energy Agency (IEA) expects even this to change as the United States is set to surge past 11 million bpd by late 2018.

A build-up in US crude inventory reported the previous day was not as large as expected, given that stocks tend to rise towards the end of the winter as refineries conduct maintenance.

The surge in USA oil production could indicate less influence of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries - a group of 12 of the world's largest largest oil exporters that wields considerable influence on global oil prices.

The main culprit for a slowdown in U.S. shipments to Asia is likely the narrowing discount of benchmark U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) to Brent, the light crude grade used as a price marker for the rest of the world.

Brent crude futures fell 47 cents to $63.87 per barrel by 1500 GMT.

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The April crude oil futures started the session at 62.30, and was down 22 cents.

A voice for Wall Street in the White House, Cohn's move to resign came after he lost a fight over Trump's plans for hefty steel and aluminium import tariffs. The increase, however, almost matched market expectations and came in at less than half the increase reported by trade group the American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday.

And weekly figures from the American Petroleum Institute released Tuesday showed USA crude inventories rose by 5.66 million barrels for the week ending Friday, the second consecutive week-over-week increase.

Major powers, including the European Union and China, have said such tariffs could lead to retaliatory action and trigger a global trade war.

"Despite the global economy humming, we see fragility in the oil market", said Julius Baer head of commodities and macro research Norbert Ruecker, adding that rising inventories would put pressure on oil prices in the short term. Last week's API report showed a build in gasoline inventories of 1.914 million barrels.

At this level it doesn't make economic sense for Asian buyers to import crude from the U.S. Gulf, with a discount of at least $4 a barrel needed to overcome the higher freight rates involved for the longer sea journey.

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