Oil prices gain as US inventories plunge

Oil prices moved sharply higher on Wednesday after the US Energy Information Administration revealed a surprise drawdown in domestic inventories.

The EIA said the nation’s stockpile of crude fell by 8.6m barrels for the week ending on February 22, while analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had expected a gain of 2.8m barrels. Inventories of gasoline and distillate fuel, which includes diesel, also dropped week-over-week.

West Texas Intermediate crude rose 3.2 per cent to $57.28 a barrel. Brent, the international benchmark, was up 2.2 per cent at $66.64 a barrel.

The report also showed that the US exported a net 162,000 barrels a day of crude and petroleum products. It marked just the second time on record, following a brief occurrence in late November, that the US was a net petroleum exporter on a weekly basis. Crude exports totalled more than 3.3m barrels a day, compared with an all-time high of 3.6m in the prior week.

The EIA has forecast that the US will ship more oil and liquid fuels than it imports in the fourth quarter of 2020.

Crude prices have rebounded since their rapid descent late last year amid production cuts by Opec. But US production has been on a tear and is on pace to surpass a milestone of 13m barrels a day in March 2020, according to the EIA’s latest monthly outlook. Last week, the nation’s oil production hit a fresh record of 12.1m barrels a day.

US drillers, particularly shale oil producers such as EOG Resources and Hess, were among the top performers in the S&P 500 on Wednesday.


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