Oil Pares Weekly Drop as Wildfire Disruptions Battle Oversupply

IEA’s Atkinson Says Brighter Times Are Ahead for Oil
  • OPEC production seen above 33 million barrels a day in April
  • Fires disrupt Canadian supply; U.S. output falls 8th week

Oil pared its first weekly decline in more than a month as oil-sands disruptions in Canada and lower U.S. output offset rising stockpiles and OPEC production.

A wildfire in Alberta has shut more than one million barrels a day of oil-sands output capacity after workers were evacuated, while production sites have so far escaped damage. U.S. crude inventories rose to the highest since 1929 while output dropped the most in eight months last week, a government report on Wednesday showed. OPEC output climbed in April amid gains from Iran and Iraq, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“The market is internalizing how much outage it may have in Canada versus the increases in production elsewhere,” Harry Tchilinguirian, head of commodity markets strategy at BNP Paribas in London, said by telephone. "You have some of these unplanned outages being offset by increases in OPEC production."

West Texas Intermediate for June delivery rose 34 cents to settle at $44.66 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after reaching an intraday high of $45.34 a barrel following a report that showed U.S. employers in April added the fewest workers in seven months. Prices declined 2.7 percent this week, the first weekly drop since the week ended April 1.

Brent for July settlement climbed 36 cents, or 0.8 percent, to end the session at $45.37 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. Prices dropped about 6 percent this week. The global benchmark was at a premium of 5 cents to WTI for July.

Prices remain about 60 percent below their peak in mid-2014 as the global oversupply persists. U.S. stockpiles swelled to 543.4 million barrels last week, according to the Energy Information Administration. Citigroup Inc. predicts inventories will expand further to a record before starting a seasonal slide. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries pumped 33.22 million barrels a day last month, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Iraq increased output by 160,000 barrels, while Iran boosted production by 300,000 barrels to the highest level since December 2011.

Canadian Wildfire

Suncor Energy Inc., Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Husky Energy Inc. are among companies that shut plants or reduced production due to the wildfires in Alberta. The fire has caused the evacuation of more than 80,000 people in Fort McMurray, the town at the heart of the Athabasca deposit, one of three large bitumen reserves that make up Alberta’s oil sands.

The number of active oil rigs fell to 328 this week, the least since October 2009, according to Baker Hughes Inc. U.S. production slid by 113,000 barrels a day to 8.83 million last week, the biggest weekly drop since August 2015, according to the EIA report released on Wednesday.

More oil-market news:

  • Chevron Corp. said about 90,000 barrels a day of production had been affected by an attack on its Okan facility in the Niger Delta.
  • Halliburton Co. has joined rival Schlumberger Ltd. in curbing activity in Venezuela due to lack of payment during the oil industry’s worst financial crisis.
  • The odds of a Libyan oil revival are diminishing amid intensifying conflict between factions that is crippling production and exports.
  • Damage to South Sudan’s oil fields after more than two years of civil war will hamper plans to boost output, Petroleum Minister Dak Duop Bischok said.
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