Oil Rises on Lower-Than-Expected Rise in US Crude Stockpiles

Oil Rises on Lower-Than-Expected Rise in US Crude Stockpiles
The Bryan Mound Strategic Petroleum Reserve, an oil storage facility, is seen in this aerial photograph over Freeport, Texas, on April 27, 2020. (Adrees Latif/Reuters)

LONDON—Oil prices rose for a third day on Wednesday after U.S. crude inventories grew less than expected and a cut in the forecast for output growth in the U.S., the world’s biggest producer, eased concerns about potential oversupply.

Brent crude futures were up 26 cents to $78.85 a barrel as of 0914 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude climbed 27 cents to $73.58.

American Petroleum Institute figures showed U.S. crude stocks rose 670,000 barrels in the week to Feb. 2, well below a 1.9 million barrel build forecast from analysts polled by Reuters.

U.S. government weekly data on oil inventories will be released later on Wednesday.

For 2024, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) on Tuesday cut its outlook for domestic oil output growth by 120,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 170,000 bpd, sharply lower than last year’s 1.02 million bpd output increase.

The EIA also forecast U.S. production would not exceed the December 2023 record of more than 13.3 million bpd until February 2025.

The outlook strengthened the case that the oil market will be balanced in 2024, analysts at Haitong Futures said in a note, adding that they expect oil prices to remain in a $10 range around current levels.

Meanwhile, U.S., Qatari, and Egyptian mediators prepared a diplomatic push to bridge differences between Israel and Hamas on a ceasefire plan for Gaza after the Palestinian group responded to a proposal for an extended pause in fighting and hostage releases.

Traders have been following the situation in the Middle East, especially attacks on shipping by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in the crucial Red Sea that have disrupted traffic through the Suez Canal, the fastest sea route between Asia and Europe and one that carries nearly 12 percent of global trade.

“Given the heightened geopolitical risk, the rangebound trading and lack of a risk premium may surprise some,” ING analysts Warren Patterson and Ewa Manthey said in a note.

“It’s important to remember that while we are seeing disruptions to trade flows as a result of Red Sea developments, oil production remains unchanged as a result.”

In the longer term, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Wednesday that India is expected to be the largest driver of global oil demand growth between 2023 and 2030, narrowly taking the lead from top importer China.

That comes as struggling large economies, including China’s, dent confidence in the global oil demand outlook.

In Germany, industrial production fell more than expected in December, the federal statistics office said on Wednesday, highlighting weakness in the backbone of Europe’s largest economy.

By Paul Carsten