Oil prices finished higher on Wednesday

Recap: Oil prices finished higher on Wednesday, as traders await the release of the EIA report, which was delayed a day due to the U.S. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Holiday. Expectations are calling for the ninth straight week. Despite trading below its 10-day moving average, March Brent rebounded, while February WTI bounced off of its 10-day moving average, with both blends gaining ground throughout the session. February WTI settled at $63.97 a barrel, up 24 cents, or 0.38%. March Brent tacked on 23 cents, or 0.33%, to settle at $69.38 a barrel.

Fundamental News:  Bloomberg estimated that crude oil stocks held in Cushing, Oklahoma fell by 2.5 million barrels to 44.1 million barrels in the week ending January 12th. 

According to Bloomberg, preliminary US waterborne US crude imports increased by 158,000 bpd to 4.52 million bpd in the week ending January 11th. 

Distillate volumes heading to Northwest Europe and the Mediterranean from the US Gulf Coast for January are currently 920,000 metric tons, according to S&P Global Platts’ trade flow software, cFlow. 

China National Petroleum Corp’s Economics and Technology Research Institute reported that apparent oil demand is expected to increase by 4.6% on the year to reach 600 million metric tons or 12.05 million bpd in 2018, with net crude imports expected to increase by 7.7% to 451 million metric tons. 

Kuwait’s Oil Minister, Bakheet Al-Rashidid, said OPEC and non-OPEC compliance with cuts was at 125% in December, up from 122% in November and the highest since the oil cuts were implemented.  OPEC production fell to 32.416 million bpd in December.  He said there is no plan or intention so far to exit from the production cut agreement.  He said a January 21st committee meeting of some OPEC and non-OPEC ministers in Oman would focus on reviewing adherence to the cuts.

Genscape reported that recent cold weather in the West Texas Permian region impacted production, storage levels and pipeline flows.  Permian production fell by 462,000 bpd to 2.33 million bpd in the week ending January 5th, while stocks fell by nearly 500,000 barrels. 

IIR reported that US oil refiners are expected to shut in 774,000 bpd of capacity in the week ending January 19th, reducing available refining capacity by 206,000 bpd from the previous week.  IIR expects offline capacity to fall to 662,000 bpd in the week ending January 26th. 

Looting by hungry mobs across Venezuela has left streets of shuttered shops in provincial towns and pushed some store owners to arm themselves with guns and machetes, prompting fear that the turmoil could spread to the capital Caracas.  In the first 11 days of January, some 107 lootings or attempted lootings have taken place.  Venezuela is suffering a fifth consecutive year of recession and the world’s highest inflation rate, which the opposition-run Congress says topped 2,600% last year.  Government critics say President Nicolas Maduro’s refusal to reform the country’s economy is to blame for the fight for survival in the country, which is home to the world’s largest crude oil reserves.  

Early Market Call – as of 9:00 AM EDT

WTI – Feb $63.87, down 10 cents

RBOB – Feb $1.8585, up 4 points

HO – Feb $2.0523, down 1.68 cents

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