WTI Drops First Time in Four Days as U.S. Stockpiles Seen Rising

West Texas Intermediate crude fell for the first time in four days before government data that may show U.S. stockpiles rose from an 82-year high. Saudi Arabia increased production to the most in five months.

Futures slid as much as 0.9 percent in New York after the biggest three-day gain since the first week of August. U.S. crude supplies probably climbed by 2 million barrels last week, according to a Bloomberg News survey before the Energy Information Administration report tomorrow. Saudi Arabia raised output to 9.32 million barrels a day in April, a person with knowledge of the country’s production said. China’s external trade probably slowed last month, a separate survey showed.

“We are probably going to be presented with another weekly inventory rise from the U.S. tomorrow, and that obviously does bring the focus that the market is still well supplied,” Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank A/S in Copenhagen, said in a telephone interview. “Whether we are ready to see a return toward the $110 level, which is the average for the last few years, it’s probably too early to say.”

WTI for June delivery declined as much as 90 cents to $95.26 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange and was at $95.85 at 1:36 p.m. London time. The volume of contracts traded was 19 percent below the 100-day average. Futures climbed 55 cents to $96.16 yesterday, the highest close since April 2, capping a three-day gain of 5.6 percent.

Market Struggle

Brent for June settlement on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange rebounded to $105.86 a barrel, up 40 cents, after declining to as low as $104.68. The European benchmark crude was at a premium of $9.48 to WTI futures, up from $9.30 yesterday. The spread closed at $8.58 on May 3, the narrowest since December 2011. The volume of all contracts traded was 9 percent below the 100-day average.

“We are seeing a positive mood carrying over into the European session, also U.S. futures slightly to the positive,” Bjarne Schieldrop, head of commodity research at SEB AB, said by telephone from Oslo. “We are now set for a gradual recovery in the oil price toward $110 level” in the third quarter of the year, he said.

Forties Shipments

Shipments of North Sea Forties crude for June are planned at 21 cargoes of 600,000 barrels each, unchanged from this month, according to a loading program obtained by Bloomberg News. Exports of Ekofisk crude for June are planned at three cargoes of 600,000 barrels each, seven less for this month, while exports of Brent crude for June are planned at five cargoes of 600,000 barrels each, one less than this month, the program showed.

Planned exports in June of Oseberg blend are unchanged, according to the program. Forties, Ekofisk, Brent and Oseberg grades comprise the Dated Brent benchmark.

Brent’s premium to WTI may widen to as much as $15 a barrel in the third quarter, Societe Generale SA said in an e-mailed report today. Purchases of Atlantic Basin sweet, or low-sulfur, crude are increasing with a seasonal rebound in refinery utilization rates, the bank said. That may boost front-month Brent prices, while the outlook for WTI is “neutral to bearish” because of rising U.S. supplies, it said.

Chinese Goods

China’s goods exports probably rose 9.1 percent in April from a year earlier, compared with 10 percent in March, according to a Bloomberg survey of economists before customs data tomorrow. Imports probably increased 13 percent, from 14.1 percent the prior month, the survey showed. China accounted for 11 percent of global oil consumption in 2011, according to BP Plc’s Statistical Review of World Energy.

U.S. crude stockpiles probably increased to 397.3 million barrels last week as domestic output remained near the highest in two decades and demand declined, according to the Bloomberg survey of nine analysts. Gasoline inventories decreased by 400,000 barrels and distillate supplies, including heating oil and diesel, climbed by 500,000 barrels, the survey showed.

The American Petroleum Institute in Washington is to release separate supply data today. The industry group collects stockpile information on a voluntary basis from operators of refineries, bulk terminals and pipelines. The government requires that reports be filed with the EIA, the Energy Department’s statistical unit, for its weekly survey.

Saudi Supply

Enbridge Inc.’s planned shutdown of the U.S. Ozark pipeline for 10 days starting June 10 will reduce capacity to move oil from Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for Nymex futures. Enbridge will close the line, which has the capacity to carry 215,000 barrels a day of crude to Wood River, Illinois, from Cushing, for maintenance, said Larry Springer, a company spokesman in Houston. Monthly throughput will be reduced by 40 percent, he said.

Saudi Arabia, the largest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, increased output by 180,000 barrels a day last month, according to the person familiar with the matter. The country supplied 9.16 million barrels a day to international and domestic markets, compared with 9.15 million in March, said the person with knowledge of the kingdom’s output, asking not to be identified because the information is confidential.