Oil prices regain little ground lost in previous session

Jeannie Matthews
July 19, 2019

"You have people that were trying to ride the whole storm and a 9 million (-barrel) draw (in US crude inventories) that went with it last week", said Bob Yawger, director of energy at Mizuho in NY.

Iran said the vessel, which it did not identify, was smuggling fuel and had been carrying 1 million liters, or around 6,200 barrels.

American gasoline and distillates inventories rose by a combined 9.25 million barrels last week, according to government data, well above expectations of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Brent crude futures were down 82 cents at $63.53 a barrel and U.S West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell 99 cents $56.63 a barrel.

Oil prices rose on Wednesday after steep falls in the previous session, although US crude trailed gains for worldwide benchmark Brent following data showing USA crude inventories fell less than expected.

US crude inventories fell 3.1 million barrels, EIA data showed, more than analysts' forecasts for a decrease of 2.7 million barrels.

"The oil price reaction on Thursday shows once again that the conflict in the Middle East is far from solved and tensions could flare up at any time", UBS analyst Giovanni Staunovo said.

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US offshore oil and gas production has continued to return to service since Hurricane Barry passed through the Gulf of Mexico last week, triggering platform evacuations and output cuts.

Over the past four weeks, crude oil imports averaged about 7.1 million b/d, down 1.38 million b/d year-on-year, while crude oil exports averaged about 3.1 million b/d, up about 880,000 b/d year-on-year.

"The fact that oil product stocks increased sharply is a reflection of weaker demand".

However, Iran later denied it was willing to negotiate over its ballistic missile programme, contradicting a claim by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and appearing to undercut Trump's statement.

"It is hard to believe that either the United States or the Iranian stance would change drastically, therefore yesterday's sell-off might turn out to be an excellent buying opportunity", PVM analysts wrote.

Net U.S. crude imports were marginally higher, rising 44,000 bpd, while exports alone fell about half a million bpd.

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