Crude to open weaker in Asia

Petrol station in Singapore in the Geylang neighborhood; taken August 2018.Petrol station in Singapore in the Geylang neighborhood; taken August 2018.

Crude oil prices are expected to open weaker in Asia on Wednesday as a tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico did not have a major impact on offshore and coastal production.

ICE Brent was last quoted down 0.37 percent to US$77.86 a barrel, while NYMEX West Texas Intermediate eased 0.57 percent to US$69.47 a barrel in after-hours trade. Brent crude oil rose 0.03 percent to settle at US$78.17 a barrel, while WTI gained 0.10 percent to US$69.81 a barrel.

Tropical Storm Gordon brought heavy rains to the Gulf of Mexico, but not major damage to energy installations. Gordon is expected to strengthen to a hurricane Tuesday evening in the U.S. before making landfall in Mississippi, according to the U.S. National Weather Service.

“Oil markets orchestrated an upswing with Brent testing May levels after Tropical Storm Gordon hit the Gulf of Mexico. But prices pulled back considerably, as the magnitude of the storm suggests production losses will be limited,” said Stephen Innes, head of Asia-Pacific trading at OANDA.

Talos Energy, Exxon Mobil and Chevron on Tuesday evacuated employees and shut several platforms in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. That followed Anadarko Petroleum Corp’s decision on Monday to evacuate staff and shut production at two oil platforms in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

Other major oil producers, including ConocoPhillips, BP and Royal Dutch Shell  continued to operate and were monitoring conditions. The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, the largest privately owned crude terminal in the United States, also said it was operating normally.

Hurricane Florence in the Atlantic is also being monitored, but isn’t currently threatening any energy facilities.

The American Petroleum Institute reports its weekly estimates of crude and refined product stocks on Wednesday at 4:30 pm U.S. EDT, a day later than normal because of a holiday Monday in the U.S.

Analysts forecast a drop of 1.925 million barrels for crude inventories, according to — and a 1.475 million barrels drop in gasoline stocks and a 548,000 build in distillate supplies.

The Energy Information Administration will report official data on Thursday at 10:30 am U.S. EDT, also a day later than normal.