West Texas Intermediate crude declined from its highest closing level in seven weeks on estimates that U.S. supplies rose last week. Brent slipped as U.S. Vice President Joe Biden met with Ukrainian leaders.
Crude stockpiles in the U.S., the world’s biggest oil consumer, probably increased for the 13th time in 14 weeks, a Bloomberg News survey shows before Energy Information Administration data tomorrow. Russia and the U.S. traded blame for failing to rein in extremists in Ukraine as a diplomatic accord, reached last week to ease the crisis, neared collapse. Vice President Biden is meeting with officials in Kiev today.
“U.S. stocks are up massively, U.S. production is further on the rise,” Eugen Weinberg, head of commodities research at Commerzbank AG, said by e-mail. “Other than Ukraine there are not so many factors to support.”
WTI for May delivery, which expires today, slid as much as $1.13 to $103.24 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, and traded for $103.39 at 1:30 p.m. London time. The more-active June future was 96 cents lower at $102.69. The grade closed at $104.37 yesterday, the highest settlement since March 3. It was at a discount of $6.72 to Brent on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.
Brent for June settlement slipped 55 cents to $109.40 a barrel on ICE. The contract climbed 42 cents to $109.95 yesterday, also the highest close since March 3. The volume of all futures traded was about 25 percent below the 100-day average for the time of day.
Brent, the benchmark grade for more than half the world’s crude, advanced last week by the most since February amid clashes between Ukrainian security forces and pro-Russian gunmen. Russia is the world’s second-largest net oil exporter and supplied about 30 percent of Europe’s natural gas last year, according to the EIA, the Energy Department’s statistical arm.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov yesterday that “there will be consequences” if Russia fails to act “over the next pivotal days” to restrain pro-Russian militants in eastern Ukraine, department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. In Moscow, Lavrov called on the U.S. to hold Ukraine’s interim government accountable for curbing what Russia portrays as right-wing militias.
Biden will offer U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and economy at meetings with government leaders in Kiev today and urge implementing the accord signed last week in Geneva, according to an Obama administration official who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity.
U.S. crude supplies probably rose by 3 million barrels to 397.1 million in the week ended April 18, according to the median estimate in the Bloomberg survey of eight analysts. That will be the highest level since May.
Gasoline inventories are projected to have dropped by 1.9 million while distillate stockpiles, including heating oil and diesel, shrank by 300,000 barrels, the survey shows.
The American Petroleum Institute is scheduled to release separate inventory data today. The industry group in Washington collects information on a voluntary basis from operators of refineries, bulk terminals and pipelines. The government requires that reports be filed with the EIA.
In Libya, an accord to reopen two oil ports returned to government control by rebels is at risk of collapse because payments stipulated by the deal have yet to be received, Ali Al-Hasy, spokesman of self-declared Executive Office for Barqa, said by phone today.
Libya, the holder of Africa’s largest crude reserves, has dropped to the smallest producer among the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries as unrest deepened since the ouster of Muammar Qaddafi three years ago.