Crude Oil Prices Rise Following Large Inventory Reductions

Print Email

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its weekly petroleum status report Wednesday morning. U.S. commercial crude inventories decreased by 2.2 million barrels last week, maintaining a total U.S. commercial crude inventory of 533.4 million barrels. The commercial crude inventory has moved down to near the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.

Tuesday evening the American Petroleum Institute (API) reported that crude inventories fell by 1.3 million barrels in the week ending April 7. API also reported gasoline supplies decreased by 3.7 million barrels and distillate inventories decreased by 1.6 million barrels. For the same period, an S&P Global Platts survey of analysts had consensus estimates for an increase of 125,000 barrels in crude inventories, a decline of 1.8 million barrels in gasoline inventories, and a drop of 1.3 million barrels in distillate stockpiles.

Total gasoline inventories decreased by 3 million barrels last week, according to the EIA, and remain in the upper half of the five-year average range. Total motor gasoline supplied (the agency’s measure of consumption) averaged over 9.3 million barrels a day for the past four weeks, down by 1% compared with the same period a year ago.

In its most recent Short-Term Energy Outlook, released Tuesday, the EIA forecast U.S. crude production to rise from 8.9 million barrels a day in 2016 to 9.2 million barrels in 2017 and 9.9 million barrels in 2018.

Gulf of Mexico production rose to an all-time high of 1.67 million barrels a day in the fourth quarter of 2016. At the end of 2017, Gulf of Mexico production is pegged at 1.8 million barrels a day, rising to 1.93 million by the end of 2018. Average annual production rises from 1.61 million barrels a day in 2016 to 1.74 million in 2017 and 1.9 million in 2018.

Due to long lead times and high development costs, the number of rigs operating in the U.S. Gulf dropped from an average of 55 in 2014 to 22 in 2016.

Eight new or expanded Gulf of Mexico projects came online in 2016, with two more expected to begin production this year and another five due to start up in 2018.

Onshore production in the Lower 48 reached 6.78 million barrels a day in 2016 and is forecast to rise to 7.01 million in 2017 and 7.52 million in 2018. Alaskan production totaled 490,000 barrels a day in 2016 and is forecast to decline to 470,000 barrels in 2017 before inching back up to 480,000 barrels in 2018.

Before the EIA report, benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude for May delivery traded up about 0.1% at around $53.46 a barrel and rose to $53.54 shortly after the report’s release. WTI crude settled at $53.40 on Tuesday. The 52-week range on May futures is $44.33 to $57.50.

Distillate inventories fell by 2.2 million barrels last week but remain in the upper half of the average range for this time of year. Distillate product supplied averaged over 4.2 million barrels a day over the past four weeks, up 15.6% compared with the same period last year. Distillate production averaged about 5.1 million barrels a day last week, up about 100,000 barrels a day compared with the prior week’s production.

For the past week, crude imports averaged about 7.9 million barrels a day, up by about 28,000 barrels a day compared with the previous week. Refineries were running at 91% of capacity, with daily input averaging 16.7 million barrels a day, about 268,000 barrels a day more than the previous week’s average.

According to AAA, the current national average pump price per gallon of regular gasoline is $2.398, up a nickel from $2.349 a week ago and up a dime per gallon compared with the month-ago price. Last year at this time, a gallon of regular gasoline cost $2.057 on average in the United States.

Here is a look at how share prices for two blue-chip stocks and two exchange traded funds reacted to this latest report.

Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) traded up about 0.4%, at $83.21 in a 52-week range of $80.31 to $95.55. Over the past 12 months, Exxon stock has traded down about 1.8% and is down about 19.7% since August 2014, as of Tuesday’s close.

Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) traded down about 0.1%, at $108.83 in a 52-week range of $95.52 to $119.00. As of last night’s close, Chevron shares have added about 14.9% over the past 12 months and trade down about 15.2% since August 2014.

The United States Oil ETF (NYSEMKT: USO) traded up about 0.5%, at $11.23 in a 52-week range of $9.23 to $12.45.

The VanEck Vectors Oil Services ETF (NYSEMKT: OIH) traded up about 0.5% to $31.36, in a 52-week range of $26.10 to $36.35.