Crude Prices Fall as Weekly EIA Inventories Unexpectedly Climb

July WTI crude oil (CLN24) today is down -0.40 (-0.51%), and July RBOB gasoline (RBN24) is down -1.40 (-0.56%).

Crude oil and gasoline prices today fell to 1-week lows and are moderately lower.  Today's rally in the dollar index (DXY00) to a 1-week high is negative for energy prices.  Crude prices maintained moderate losses after today's weekly EIA report showed crude supplies unexpectedly rose last week.  

Higher than-expected Russian crude output is bearish for oil prices.  According to Bloomberg calculations based on official data, Russian crude production in April was 9.418 million bpd, more than +300,000 bpd above the 9.1 million bpd target Russia agreed to with OPEC+.  Also, Russian crude processing averaged 5.45 million bpd in the first half of May, up 4% above April's level as refineries recovered from Ukrainian drone strikes.  In addition, Russia's fuel exports have increased as refineries came back online after being damaged by Ukrainian drone attacks.  Russian fuel exports in the week to May 19 rose about 140,000 bpd from the prior week to 3.39 million bpd.

An increase in crude oil in floating storage is bearish for prices.  Monday's weekly data from Vortexa showed that the amount of crude oil held worldwide on tankers that have been stationary for at least a week rose +15% w/w to 69.27 million bbl as of May 17.

Crude oil prices have underlying support from concern about the Hamas-Israel conflict.  Israel's military is poised to conduct major military operations in the southern Gaza city of Rafah despite opposition from the Biden administration.  There is also concern that the war might spread to Hezbollah in Lebanon or even to a direct conflict with Iran.  Meanwhile, attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea by Iran-backed Houthi rebels have forced shippers to divert shipments around the southern tip of Africa instead of going through the Red Sea, disrupting global crude oil supplies.

A negative factor for crude prices is concern that some OPEC+ members want to boost their crude production levels, which may lead to infighting among the group when it meets on June 1.  Bloomberg reported last Tuesday that the UAE, Iraq, Algeria, and Kazakhstan aim to boost their production quotas.  Saudi Arabia has pushed back against boosting output and has urged OPEC+ to be cautious about adding barrels to the market.  The market consensus is that the 22-nation alliance will prolong its current crude production cuts into the second half of this year.  OPEC+ members, at their last meeting on April 3, left their existing production cuts of about 2 million bpd in place until the end of June.

Today's weekly EIA report was mainly bearish for crude and products.  EIA crude inventories unexpectedly rose +1.83 million bbl versus expectations of a -2.0 million bbl draw.  Also, EIA gasoline supplies fell -945,000 bbl, a smaller draw than expectations of -1.375 million bbl.  In addition, distillate stockpiles rose +379,000 bbl, above expectations of +300,000 bbl.  Finally, crude supplies at Cushing, the delivery point of WTI futures, rose +1.33 million bbl to a 10-month high.

Today's EIA report showed that (1) US crude oil inventories as of May 17 were -3.0% below the seasonal 5-year average, (2) gasoline inventories were -1.8% below the seasonal 5-year average, and (3) distillate inventories were -7.3% below the 5-year seasonal average.  US crude oil production in the week ending May 17 was unchanged w/w at 13.1 million bpd, slightly below the recent record high of 13.3 million bpd.

Baker Hughes reported last Friday that active US oil rigs in the week ended May 17 rose by +1 rig to 497 rigs, slightly above the 2-year low of 494 rigs posted on November 10.  The number of US oil rigs has fallen over the past year from the 4-year high of 627 rigs posted in December 2022. 

More Crude Oil News from Barchart

On the date of publication, Rich Asplund did not have (either directly or indirectly) positions in any of the securities mentioned in this article. All information and data in this article is solely for informational purposes. For more information please view the Barchart Disclosure Policy here.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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