Crude sunk after a government report showed U.S. inventories piled up for a second week just as Russia is said to be less than convinced that OPEC should extend its output limits in a meeting at the end of this month.
The U.S. benchmark slipped as much as 1.5 percent on Wednesday after Energy Information Administration data showed U.S. crude inventories rose by 1.85 million barrels last week and production climbed to a fresh record-high. The build came in smaller than the 6.51 million barrel rise that the American Petroleum Institute was said to report Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Russia believes it’s too early to announce a possible extension to output cuts at the group’s producer meeting, according to two people with knowledge of the matter. The limits, sealed in a deal between OPEC and other producers in 2016, are now scheduled to end in March.
“It sounds like there is some discourse between OPEC and non-OPEC in terms of not committing to something at the end of the month, and maybe kicking the can down the road,” said Nick Holmes, an analyst at Tortoise Capital Advisors LLC in Leawood, Kansas, which manages $16 billion in energy-related assets.
Oil rallied above $57 a barrel to a two-year high last week on escalating tensions in the Middle East and amid signals of a potential extension of supply curbs by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies. Since then, futures have slid about 3.9 percent.
Prices pared declines after the EIA showed a smaller stockpile increase than the large build reported by the the American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday. The EIA data “allayed some fears that the API data may have put into the market after the bell yesterday,” Holmes said.
Meanwhile, the the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries has yet to show it has convinced Russia, one of its partners in the deal, that a decision to prolong output cuts is needed when the group meets in Vienna this month. Another issue is how long any extension should be, with options including an added three months being considered.
The Russian government has yet to reach a consensus with the nation’s oil companies on extending the deal, according to the people familiar with the discussions.
West Texas Intermediate for December delivery fell 68 cents to $55.02 a barrel at 10:41 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Total volume traded was about 23 percent below the 100-day average. December WTI options contracts expire Wednesday.
Brent for January settlement dropped 83 cents to $61.38 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The global benchmark was at a premium of $6.17 to January WTI.
Crude stockpiles climbed to about 459 million barrels last week and production extended gains to 9.65 million barrels a day, according to the EIA. Crude exports rose by 260,000 barrels a day. Meanwhile, inventories at the key Cushing, Oklahoma, pipeline hub fell by 1.5 million barrels, the largest draw since July and distillate stocks were at the lowest since February 2015.