Oil/USA: unexpected sharp drop in crude stocks

During the week ended August 12, black gold reserves fell by 7.1 million barrels, while analysts were expecting an increase of 800,000 barrels.

Commercial reserves of U.S. crude oil, like those of gasoline, fell sharply last week, surprising analysts, according to figures released Wednesday by the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA).

During the week ended August 12, crude inventories fell by 7.1 million barrels to 425 million and those of gasoline fell by 4.6 million barrels.

“Crude inventories are down 6% below their five-year average at this time and gasoline inventories are 8% lower, which may raise concerns as winter approaches,” he said. estimated Phil Flynn, of Price Futures Group.

Analysts’ average forecasts were for a small increase in crude oil reserves of 800,000 barrels and a modest decrease in gasoline reserves (-1 million barrels).

Reserves of distilled products (fuel oil, diesel) on the other hand increased slightly by 800,000 barrels, in line with forecasts, but they fell to 23% below their five-year average.

This significant and unexpected drop in crude inventories immediately caused black gold prices to rise by more than 1.60% after the publication of the figures, before stabilizing.

“I think there was some quick profit taking before getting back to the concerns of the day in relation to the Chinese economy” which is slowing “and the Iranian nuclear talks” which could release millions of barrels on the market , explained Mr. Flynn.

Around 3:40 p.m. GMT, the price of a barrel of American WTI climbed 0.59% to 87.04 dollars and that of Brent from the North Sea 0.35% to 92.64 dollars.

Several factors explained the sharp reduction in US inventories.

First, US crude exports more than doubled last week to 5 million barrels per day (mbd) from 2.1 million.

“The United States has become the suppliers and refiners of the world,” commented Phil Flynn.

Domestic production fell a little to 12.1 mbd against 12.2 mbd the week before, while consumption increased sharply to 21.2 million barrels per day against 19.4 mbd.

Refineries also operated at a lower rate of capacity at 93.5% compared to 94.3% the week before, as the maintenance season began.

The US government has also drawn again from the country’s strategic reserves (-3.4 million barrels). These are now at their lowest since March 1985 at 461.2 million barrels.

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