Energy Report: Crude Flat to Weaker in Asia on Supply Views

Crude oil prices were flat to weaker in Asia on Thursday after an early rebound from sharp drops overnight as production from key OPEC members and allies headed higher and US inventories grew.

ICE Brent crude futures, the benchmark for oil prices outside the US, edged up slightly to $73.40 a barrel. US West Texas Intermediate crude futures slipped 0.12% to $67.58 a barrel.

US crude crude rose by 3.803 million barrels for the week ended July 27, missing expectations for a draw of 2.794 million barrels, data from the Energy Information Administration on Wednesday showed. The unexpected build in crude supplies came as imports rose by about 1.352 million barrels a day (bpd) and exports fell by 1.373 million bpd, the EIA said.

Gasoline inventories fell by 2.536 million barrels, topping expectations for a draw of 1.288 million barrels, while supplies of distillates rose by 2.983 million barrels, against expectations for a build of 264,000 barrels.

Bloomberg reported that UAE July output jumped by about 85,000 bpd, while Saudi output rose to a near-record high of 10.65 million bpd in July, while Russian oil production was on average above the level Moscow promised following the OPEC and non-OPEC meeting in June but only to maintain the market’s stability, Energy Minister Alexander Novak indicated on Wednesday.

In a statement ahead of monthly oil and gas output data publication, Novak said that Russia was pumping on average 40,540 bpd less in July compared to October 2016, a cut-off month for the OPEC+ deal. That would indicate levels above the 200,000 bpd level pledged in June.

“The increase in production is aimed at maintaining stability of the (global) oil market within the framework of joint actions of OPEC and non-OPEC countries,” Novak said.

US natural gas futures dipped 0.36% to $2.772 per million British thermal units (mmBtu). Ahead, US natural gas weekly storage data is due from the EIA with a gain of 43 bcf seen.