11:44 AM, Dec 14, 2016 — Oil prices were paring losses on Wednesday after a surprise drop in the size of stockpiles stored in the US and in spite of an increase in crude oil refinery inputs, fresh data has shown.
West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil, the main US oil benchmark, was 1.0% lower at $52.44 per barrel while Brent crude, the international oil gauge, was 0.6% lower at $55.40 per barrel at the time of writing. Earlier in the day, both benchmarks had been trading for less; WTI had fallen as low as $51.84 per barrel while Brent crude posted an intraday low of $54.77 per barrel.
Prices are, however, substantially higher than the levels seen prior to the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) agreeing to cut oil production at the end of November. The bloc, whose members collectively generate more than one third of global oil supplies, elected to lower output by 1.2 million barrels per day starting from January 1st 2017 in the first such deal to be signed in almost a decade.
US commercial crude oil inventories decreased by 2.6 million barrels to 483.2 million barrels in the week ending December 9,data published by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed. This marked the fourth consecutive week of declines in US stockpiles and stood in contrast to a forecast from the American Petroleum Institute (API), which was published on Tuesday, for a build of 4.7 million barrels over the week.
Crude oil refinery inputs in the US averaged 16.5 million barrels per day during the week, 57,000 barrels per day more than the previous week’s average while refineries operated at 90.5% of their operable capacity, up fractionally from 90.4% in the prior week, according to the EIA’s data. US imports of crude oil averaged about 7.4 million barrels per day, down by 943,000 barrels per day from the previous week.
Gasoline production contracted, averaging over 9.8 million barrels per day from 9.9 million barrels per day in the prior week, and distillate fuel production averaged 5.0 million barrels per day, down from 5.1 million barrels a week earlier.
Price: 8.84 Price Change: +0.12 Percent Change: +1.32