Oil/USA: increase in inventories less than expected

At the end of the week ending Jan. 20, commercial crude oil inventories rose by about 500,000 barrels, while analysts expected them to triple.

Commercial crude oil inventories rose but less than expected last week in the United States, a surprise partly due to the recovery in exports, according to figures released Wednesday by the United States Energy Information Agency (EIA).

At the end of the week ending January 20, these commercial stocks rose by about 500,000 barrels, while analysts expected a triple (1.5 million).

Since mid-December, commercial crude oil inventories have only risen and are now 30 million barrels above the level of five weeks ago and 7.8% above the same period last year.

For the second week in a row, the strategic oil reserves (SPR) remained unchanged due to the cessation of withdrawals driven since September 2021 by the administration of President Joe Biden to ease the prices of black gold and gasoline.

The lower-than-expected increase in commercial inventories can be attributed in part to a drop in imports (-14% over the week) combined with an increase in crude oil exports (+21.5%).

The movement is also explained by refineries, whose utilization rate reached 86.1% against 85.3% the week before.

The smaller-than-expected increase in commercial inventories has roused crude oil prices, which have so far been sluggish. Around. At 16:00 GMT, a barrel of American West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for March delivery was up 0.98% at $80.92.

US production was unchanged at 12.2 million barrels per day.

As for demand for refined products, it fell again after rising two weeks ago (-4.2% over a week). Over four weeks, the preferred gauge for analysts, it is 10.9% below volumes recorded a year ago at the same time.

This decrease is particularly significant for distilled products (-13.5%), which includes diesel but also heating oil, the result of abnormally high temperatures for the season in many regions of the United States, which also affects the consumption of propane (-36.3%) .

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