Oil rebounds after US inventory figures, Saudi comments

WTI Crude Oil

Daily March WTI Crude Oil

The International Energy Agency warned that while crude inventories in developed nations are falling and demand is rising, OPEC's curbs may be backfiring by stimulating more USA shale-oil output.

The report said: "The transition of the United States to a net energy exporter is fastest in the high oil price case, where higher crude oil prices lead to more oil and natural gas production and transition the United States into a net exporter by 2020". The price has lost 11 percent since hitting a high above $71 in January.

For the week ending on 9 February, the Energy Information Administration, the US Department of Energy's statistical arm, reported a 1.8m barrel increase (consensus: 2.8m) in the country's commercial oil inventories to reach 422.1m barrels. Analysts surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had forecast, on average, a 2.6 million barrel rise.

USA crude futures rose on the news, with West Texas Intermediate up 42 cents to $59.61 a barrel as of 10:45 a.m. EST (1545 GMT).

US crude futures dropped 0.7 per cent after settling on Tuesday at the lowest since December 22.

USA crude is also increasingly appearing on global markets, and more is set to come as the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port starts testing supertankers for exports.

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Oil has erased this year's gains after the best start in more than a decade, putting in jeopardy the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies' plan of cutting supply to drain a global glut and boost prices.

Gasoline inventories also grew, rising by 3.6m barrels (consensus: 1.2m), although those of distillate fuels decreased by 0.5m barrels. The Paris-based group also predicted America may unseat Russian Federation as the world's top crude producer by the end of this year, echoing a similar forecast by US government analysts.

Last month, the EIA said in its monthly Short-Term Energy Outlook that US crude production will soar to a record high this year before rising even more in 2019.

The physical markets are reflecting this concern. A day earlier, the American Petroleum Institute estimated a 3.947-million-barrel build in inventories, which pressured prices further.

"A driving force behind the next few weeks of pricing vulnerability stems from the current peak in US refinery maintenance season", Michael Tran, commodity strategist at RBC Capital Markets, wrote in a research note.

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