Oil prices edge up after dent from U.S. inventories

*Oil & gas deepwater development.

06 April 2017, London — Oil prices rose on Thursday, on track for a fourth consecutive daily gain, after recovering from losses triggered by record-high U.S. crude inventories.

Brent crude futures were up by 20 cents on the day at $54.56 a barrel by 1100 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 13 cents at $51.28 a barrel.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported an increase of 1.57 million barrels in crude inventories late on Wednesday, bringing total U.S. stocks to a record high of 535.5 million barrels.

“Overnight crude inventory numbers pulled the rug out from under the feet of the oil rally,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior analyst at futures brokerage OANDA.

The record crude inventories came as U.S. oil production rose by 52,000 barrels per day (b/d) to 9.2 million b/d.

“The U.S. crude oil production profile is a mirror image of where it was last year when at the end of the second quarter, production was 600,000 b/d lower than at the start of the year and this year is going to be the opposite,” said Olivier Jakob, at consultancy Petromatrix.

“By the end of the second quarter, you could have U.S. production up by 1 million b/d.”

Because of the glut, U.S. crude exports have risen to a record 1.1 million b/d. Most cargoes are going to Asia, where traders say there are early signs of a tightening market due to efforts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to cut output in an effort to prop up prices.

“The global picture is more important (than just the U.S.) and stocks are being drawn,” said Oystein Berentsen, managing director at trading company Strong Petroleum in Singapore.

In the short-term, he said, a lot of oil was being sold out of storage around the world, adding to the imminent glut.

But Berentsen warned that once a significant amount of crude had been sold out of inventories, “then you get the full effect (of tighter supplies).”

*Henning Gloystein; editing: Jason Neely & Susan Thomas – Reuters

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