Crude mixed ahead of Asian open

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

Crude oil prices were mixed on Thursday ahead of the Asian open after data from the Energy Information Administration Wednesday showed a smaller-than-expected decline in weekly U.S. inventories.

ICE Brent, the global crude benchmark, was last quoted up 0.34 percent at US$79.30, while NYMEX West Texas Intermediate was flat. Brent futures settled up 0.47 percent at US$79.40 a barrel, while WTI jumped 1.82 percent to US$71.12 a barrel.

U.S. crude supplies dropped 2.057 million barrels last week, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday, short of a 2.74 million barrel decline expected by analysts. Stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub fell 1.25 million barrels, EIA said.

Credit Suisse said the weekly data showed there was room at Cushing for further storage.

“While we do expect modest crude builds at Cushing with heavy PADD 2 turnaround activity approaching, in our opinion, Cushing tank top theory can now be ruled out given current low inventory levels,” Credit Suisse said in a note to clients on Wednesday. PADD 2 refers to the EIA designated area of oil-related infrastructure in the U.S.

The tank-top theory is that if U.S. oil storage reaches or nears capacity, oil prices would drop as suppliers dump inventories they can’t find storage for into the market.

The EIA data compared with an industry estimate released on Tuesday by the American Petroleum Institute that showed an unexpected build of 1.2 million barrels last week and a drop of 1.6 million barrels at Cushing.

The two data sets often diverge, with the EIA figures seen as official figures, and the API as estimates.

EIA also said that gasoline inventories fell 1.719 million barrels, more than the 104,000 barrels forecast and distillates rose 839,000 barrels, more than the expected gain of 651,000 barrels, EIA said.


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