Oil May Fall Amid Ample U.S. Supplies, Survey Shows

Oil may decline in New York next week after U.S. crude supplies rose as refineries cut operating rates to perform maintenance, a Bloomberg survey showed.

Nineteen of 40 analysts, or 48 percent, forecast crude will decline through Feb. 22. Thirteen respondents, or 33 percent, predicted an increase and eight forecast little change. Last week, 49 percent of analysts projected a decline.

Crude stockpiles increased 560,000 barrels to 372.2 million last week, according to an Energy Information Administration report Feb. 13. Refineries operated at 83.8 percent of capacity, down 0.4 percentage point from the prior week, the EIA said. Units are often idled to make enhancements and repairs in February as attention shifts away from heating oil and before gasoline use rises.

“Supplies are going to remain ample,” said Phil Flynn, senior market analyst at the Price Futures Group in Chicago. “Refiners are in the midst of maintenance, which will reduce demand for crude oil.”

Oil production rose 67,000 barrels a day to 7.06 million last week, the most since December 1992, according to the EIA, the Energy Department’s statistical arm. A combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has unlocked supplies trapped in shale formations in states including North Dakota, Texas and Oklahoma.

Middle East

Futures may climb on tensions in the Middle East, the region responsible for about 33 percent of the world’s petroleum output in 2011, according to BP Plc’s Statistical Review of World Energy. United Nations nuclear officials said yesterday that they didn’t secure an agreement that would allow access to Iran’s nuclear facilities and couldn’t settle on a date for another meeting.

Oil increased 14 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $95.86 a barrel this week on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices have climbed 4.4 percent this year.

The oil survey has correctly predicted the direction of futures 50 percent of the time since its start in April 2004.

     Bloomberg’s survey of oil analysts and traders, conducted
each Thursday, asks for an assessment of whether crude oil
futures are likely to rise, fall or remain neutral in the coming
week. The results were:

                    RISE      NEUTRAL    FALL
                     13          8        19