Crude may rebound in Asia

U.S. two-dollar billsPhoto by Leslie Shaffer

Crude oil prices may rebound in Asia on Thursday as the market turns its attention to supply from Iran after a surprise build in U.S. weekly inventories, which was likely linked to heavy refinery maintenance as the summer driving season ended.

ICE Brent crude was last quoted down 0.15 percent at US$81.75 a barrel. NYMEX West Texas Intermediate was cited at US$72.01 a barrel, up 0.61 percent. On Wednesday, Brent eased 0.65 percent to settle at US$81.34 a barrel, while WTI slipped 0.98 percent to US$71.57 a barrel.

Concerns resurfaced that renewed U.S. sanctions on Iran were due to take full effect in November and will remove the OPEC producer’s significant supplies from the market.

However, the U.S. will not release supplies from its strategic reserve to offset the drop in Iranian oil, Energy Secretary Rick Perry said on Wednesday.

U.S. crude inventories posted a gain of 1.852 million barrels last week, compared with expectations for a 1.279 million barrel decline, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Wednesday.

Refinery demand fell 901,000 barrels per day (bpd) as demand fell after the U.S. Labor Day weekend and many refineries reconfigured units to produce more distillates over gasoline. Gasoline stocks rose 1.5 million barrels, compared with a gain of 788,000 barrels expected.

Distillates stocks dropped by 2.24 million barrels, more than the forecast decline of 752,000 barrels.

American Petroleum Institute estimates, which were released on Tuesday, showed U.S. crude oil inventories posted an unexpected gain of 2.9 million barrels last week and refinery crude runs fell by 687,000 bpd, with gasoline supplies up 949,000 barrels and distillates down 944,000 barrels.

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