US crude, gasoline inventories rise unexpectedly

Posted May 26, 2018

Petrol and diesel have surged on the back of rallying global markets for crude oil, amid ongoing production cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

Brent futures fell 37 cents, or almost 0.5 percent, to $79.20 a barrel by 0636 GMT, after climbing 35 cents on Tuesday.

US refiner Valero Energy Corp this year boosted its imports of Venezuelan crude ahead of USA sanctions over the country's disputed presidential election and as other customers received less of the OPEC-member's exports, according to Thomson Reuters trade flows data.

The price drop of both WTI and Brent crude oil this week is being attributed to sanctions on Iran and increased sanctions on Venezuela following last weekend's re-election of Nicolas Maduro. The apprehension in India was that OPEC countries, including export leader Saudi Arabia, had persistently denied rising production to offset a price spiral. Meanwhile Pierre Andurand, one of the most prominent hedge fund managers in the oil market, recently said that $300 a barrel was "not impossible".

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Global oil prices fell Friday after top producer Saudi Arabia signalled a likely boost in supply as soon as the third quarter, and world stock markets were mixed over the sudden United States move to cancel the summit with North Korea.

"If sanctions are introduced against Iran, most of the Opec producers would like to be pumping more oil, particularly giving the higher prices".

He also reiterated that obligations under the 1.8 million b/d OPEC/non-OPEC output cut agreement may be lowered if the participants come to the conclusion at the June meeting the market has rebalanced.

Oil prices edged lower on Wednesday as the market took a breather on expectations OPEC may raise supplies as early as June, although geopolitical risks kept a floor under the market.

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The OPEC with its allies has curbed production since January 2017 to get rid of a supply glut that in mid-2014 led to a price collapse. Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub fell by 1.123 million barrels.

"People are having a hard time taking them seriously about it for now, but definitely it's registering more with the market today", he said, adding, "Unnamed OPEC sources are only going to carry the day so far".

US refineries produced about 10 million barrels of gasoline a day last week, down by about 500,000 barrels compared to the prior week.

United States crude oil production has risen by more than a quarter in the past two years, to 10.73 million bpd.

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