West Texas Intermediate traded near a five month low on signs of expanding supplies, while Brent advanced amid disruptions in Libya, widening the spread between the two crudes to the most since April.
WTI futures were little changed in New York after the industry-funded American Petroleum Institute said yesterday that crude supplies increased by 599,000 barrels last week. The government will probably report today that inventories rose by 800,000 barrels to 386.2 million, according to a Bloomberg News survey. Brent advanced as much as 0.8 percent in London as protests in Libya disrupted the nation’s oil exports. Middle East outages may push prices higher next year, the International Energy Agency predicted.
“The U.S. situation is more bearish than the rest of the world due to the tight oil and shale gas boom,” said Gerrit Zambo, an oil trader at Bayerische Landesbank in Munich. “The reality is the demand-supply situation in the U.S. is changing.”
WTI’s discount to the North Sea grade widened as much as $1.24, a fifth daily increase, to $14.48 a barrel, the biggest since April 2. WTI for December delivery was down 59 cents at $93.29 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange as of 1:14 p.m. London time. It settled at $93.04 on Nov. 12, the lowest since May 31. The volume of all futures traded was about 21 percent below the 100-day average.
Brent for December settlement, which expires today, gained 57 cents to $107.69 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The more-actively traded January contract rose 43 cents to $107.32.
Prices may “come under renewed upside pressure” as refiners returning from seasonal maintenance eat into supply already curtailed by unrest in Libya and Iraq, the IEA said today in its monthly market report. The Paris-based adviser slightly increased estimates for global oil demand in 2014 and for production from outside the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, resulting in a “comfortable” balance for early next year.
U.S. crude stockpiles at Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for WTI contracts and the nation’s biggest oil-storage hub, increased by 1.67 million barrels last week, the API in Washington said yesterday.
Gasoline inventories fell by 1.67 million barrels, API data showed. An Energy Information Administration report today will probably show they declined by 900,000 barrels, according to the median estimate of 11 analysts in the Bloomberg survey.
Distillate supplies, a category that includes heating oil and diesel, rose by 606,000 barrels, the API said. The report from the EIA, the Energy Department’s statistical arm, will show they fell 1 million barrels, according to the survey.
In Libya, the holder of Africa’s largest oil reserves, about 300 protesters stopped a tanker from loading at the country’s Hariga port, Mohamed Elharari, a spokesman for state-run National Oil Corp., said by phone from Tripoli yesterday.
Protests at Libya’s 120,000 barrel-a-day Zawiya refinery kept the plant closed for more than a day, Ibrahim Al Awami, the oil ministry’s head of measurement and inspection, said by phone yesterday.
Libya produced 450,000 barrels of oil a day last month, compared with 1.45 million in the same period last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Labor disputes at ports, storage facilities and oil fields have crippled shipments from the nation, an OPEC member.
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