Weekly reports by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) statistical arm, the Energy Information Agency (EIA), and the American Petroleum Institute (API) released on November 1st and October 31st, respectively, indicated further drops in U.S. crude oil and gasoline stocks and a modest build in heating oil inventories.
The API report found a 749,000-barrel draw in crude inventories to 281.7 million barrels and drop in gasoline stocks of 4.9 million barrels, or 2.5 percent. API figures also showed a 1.7 million-barrel build in distillate inventories, including heating oil.
The EIA reported a drop in crude inventories of 1.5 million barrels to 284.1 million barrels, down 19.9 million barrels from the same period in 1999. Gasoline stocks were seen down 4.1 million barrels to 188.1 million barrels, compared to 204.6 million barrels in 1999. The EIA reported distillate inventories increasing by 1.4 million barrels to 113.6 million barrels, down 26.1 million barrels from 1999.
Heating oil stocks climbed 1.2 million barrels to 47.2 million barrels, down 22.5 million barrels from the previous year. The EIA saw refinery utilization at 94.7 percent, up from 93.6 percent the previous week.
Reports of a further decline in crude inventories followed on the heels of OPEC’s latest production hike of 500,000 b/d, its fourth increase of the year, announced on October 30th.
Despite suggestions from analysts and insiders that only a fraction of the increased production would reach markets, U.S. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson said of the increase on October 31st that: “We think it will help stabilize the market. We believe we have averted a problem. We are satisfied.”
However, oil markets have appeared unimpressed by the latest OPEC hike and responded to the EIA and API numbers by pushing crude prices up about 60 cents a barrel by mid-day on November 1st.