Crude oil futures moved marginally lower during mid-morning trade in Asia Friday, amid a build reported in US crude inventory while news of Nigeria’s cooperation with OPEC to reduce output limited the price fall. At 9:55 am Singapore time (0155 GMT), ICE April Brent crude futures were down 17 cents/b (0.25%) from Thursday’s settle to $66.90/b, while the front-month NYMEX April light sweet crude contract was down 12 cents/b (0.21%) to $56.84/b.
US commercial crude stocks for the week ended February 15 rose 3.67 million barrels to 454.51 million barrels, according to the US Energy Information Administration report out Thursday. Analysts surveyed Tuesday by S&P Global Platts were looking for US crude stocks to have increased by 3.5 million barrels, while analyst reports quoting American Petroleum Institute data out Tuesday showed a smaller-than-expected build of 1.3 million barrels for the same period.
“Crude oil prices fell after stockpiles in the US rose more than expected,” ANZ analysts said in a note Friday. “Production was also up sharply (plus 100,000 b/d to 12 million b/d) as shale producers made the most of recent gains,” they added. EIA pegged US crude output at 12 million b/d for the first time last week, up from 11.9 million b/d the week prior.
Bullish data on US product inventories supported prices, analysts said. US gasoline and distillate inventories fell in line with analyst expectations by 1.45 million barrels and 1.52 million barrels to 256.85 million barrels and 138.68 million barrels, respectively, EIA data showed. Meanwhile, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has promised to improve the West African country’s compliance with its agreed OPEC output cuts following requests by the de facto leader of the group, Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has demanded greater adherence to oil production cuts by Nigeria in a bid to balance global oil markets and shore up prices, a Nigerian government statement said late Wednesday.