Oil Pares Gains as API Said to Report Gasoline Supply Surge

  • U.S. gasoline inventories rose by 4.08 million barrels: API
  • Nationwide crude stockpiles fell 4.62 million barrels

Oil pared gains after the industry-funded American Petroleum Institute was said to report a jump in fuel stockpiles last week.

API was said to report that U.S. gasoline stockpiles rose by 4.08 million barrels last week, outweighing a 4.62 million-barrel drop in crude supplies. Distillate stocks increased by 1.75 million barrels. A Bloomberg survey found that U.S. crude inventories and gasoline stocks probably dropped last week. Prices eased after gaining as much as 2.1 percent.

“Not only did gasoline stocks have a big build, but distillate was a decent build as well,” Kyle Cooper, director of research with IAF Advisors in Houston, said by telephone. “Clearly the expectation was for an overall draw.”

West Texas Intermediate for July delivery traded at $47.96 a barrel at 4:42 p.m. after settling at $48.19 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Total volume traded was about 26 percent above the 100-day average. The spread between July and August WTI narrowed to a discount of 15 cents, the smallest contango for the rolling front-month spread since September 2015.

Contango, the market structure where the near-term contract trades at a discount to those for expiration later, narrowed between the July and August West Texas Intermediate crude contracts, lending to bullish sentiment during the session.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw the front spread get even a little bit stronger,” Tariq Zahir, a New York-based commodity fund manager at Tyche Capital Advisors, said by telephone. "That would definitely give a bid to crude prices."

Brent for August settlement climbed 65 cents to end the session at $50.12 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The global benchmark crude traded at a premium of $1.78 to WTI for the same month.

U.S. crude inventories probably declined by 3.25 million barrels last week, according to a Bloomberg survey before the release of data from the Energy Information Administration on Wednesday. Crude stockpiles at Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for WTI and the biggest U.S. oil-storage hub, probably decreased by 750,000 barrels, according to a forecast compiled by Bloomberg.

Oil has traded below $50 a barrel in New York since the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its partners agreed to extend output cuts into 2018 amid speculation that despite the curbs, a supply glut will persist. While American stockpiles have recently edged lower, output from the country has expanded to the highest since August 2015.

Kuwait’s Oil Minister Issam Almarzooq told official news agency KUNA that Qatar is committed to the global oil-cuts deal, with a compliance rate of 93 percent to 102 percent. This comes as efforts are under way to resolve a clash between Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Oil Supertankers

Saudi Arabia port authorities say no vessels will be allowed coming from or going to Qatar, regardless of flag or owner nationality, Inchcape Shipping Services said on its website. The Saudi ban on vessels going to and from Qatar will create logistical difficulties for some combination charters of crude oil supertankers from the Persian Gulf and will likely increase the use of smaller vessels, according to Per Mansson, a shipbroker at Affinity Shipping in London.

Oil-market news:

  • The EIA raised its U.S. crude output forecast for this year to 9.33 million barrels a day, according to its Short-Term Energy Outlook released Tuesday. It also increased its estimate for 2018 to 10.01 million barrels a day, exceeding the previous record level of 9.6 million barrels a day set in 1970.
  • The U.S. last imported crude from Qatar in October 2011 when 515,000 barrels were delivered into the U.S. Gulf, according to EIA data going back to 1995.
  • Barclays Plc cut its fourth-quarter Brent forecast to $50 a barrel from $54, and its first-quarter 2018 forecast to $51 on a “weak fundamental outlook,” head of energy markets research Michael Cohen says in report.
  • Norwegian oil workers will hold wage talks with their employers on Friday in an attempt to avoid a strike that could cut 10 percent of crude output from western Europe’s largest producer.

— With assistance by Ben Sharples, and Grant Smith

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