Oil Futures Settle Lower After Inventory Data

U.S crude oil

Brent has gained almost 30 percent this year, while WTI has risen almost 40 percent, underpinned by USA sanctions on Iranian and Venezuelan crude, OPEC production cuts and rising global demand.

The sun sets behind an oil pump outside Saint-Fiacre, near Paris, France March 28, 2019.

Brent futures moved up 31 cents, or 0.45 percent, to$69.68 by 1045 GMT.

Brent futures rose 22 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $69.59 a barrel by 0028 GMT, after earlier reaching $69.68, the highest since November 13.

The brent crude rose to $69.11, while US crude tapped at $61.70, highrst since November 2018. Analysts in a survey of economists expected stockpiles to fall by 425,000 barrels.

"Crude imports rose and crude exports fell, which translates into considerably higher net imports".

"You can see that the refinery utilization is still pretty low in the Gulf Coast due to both scheduled and unscheduled refinery outages", said Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates.

The OPEC+ agreement to reduce oil output by 1.2 million barrels a day expires at the end of June. "All of this contributed to the large stock build".

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USA crude oil production increased to 12.2 million barrels per day.

"Those are the issues that have supported the market here", said Bob Yawger, director of futures at Mizuho in NY.

Oil prices have been supported for much of 2019 by efforts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-affiliated allies like Russian Federation, known as OPEC+, who have pledged to withhold around 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) of supply this year. That was offset by Saudi Arabia reducing production to a four-year low of 9.82 million barrels a day. Further threatening global supply, the USA is considering harsher sanctions on Iran while a key crude terminal in Venezuela has halted operations again.

Iran, OPEC's third-largest producer, along with Venezuela and Libya, were exempt from the OPEC+ agreement due to US sanctions imposed on Iran, and the political situation in Venezuela and Libya, all where economies have been hit hard.

Also start watching for the announcement of a U.S.

According to EIA's data, US crude oil production last week averaged 12.2 million barrels per day, up by about 100,000 barrels per day year-on-year.

US crude stocks rose unexpectedly last week, while gasoline and distillate inventories declined, the American Petroleum Institute said late on Tuesday.

"The physical market is very strong and we are now starting to trade post-turnaround barrels, which should mean physical markets strengthen and flat prices should follow", he said.

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