Crude Supply Continues to Tighten

04/18/2019 11:02 am EST

Focus: COMMODITIES

Phil Flynn

Senior Energy Analyst, The PRICE Futures Group

The EIA report suggests that we should see a further tightening of crude supply, notes Phil Flynn.

Traders decided to go look for Eater eggs instead of trade after the Energy Information Administration (EIA) numbers failed to match the excitement of the American Petroleum Institute (API) the day before. The EIA reported that U.S. commercial crude oil inventories fell by a more than expected 1.4 million barrels, gasoline inventories decreased by 1.2 million barrels and distillate fuel inventories decreased by 0.4 million barrels last week.

Still the EIA report, standing on its own, was very supportive and suggest that we should see a further tightening of crude supply in the coming weeks. U.S. crude imports plunged to the lowest level in two years as OPEC production cuts start to bite and the country of Venezuela continues to collapse.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged 6.0 million barrels-per-day last week, down by 607,000 from the previous week, while crude oil exports averaged 2.4 million barrels-per-day, up by 52,000 from the last.

Gasoline supplies have been collapsing as well and the EIA says that in every major category of supply, we are below the five-year average for crude oil gasoline and distillate. Crude inventories stand at 455.2 million, 2% below the five-year average for this time year. Gasoline is 1% below the five-year average for this time of year. Distillate fuels are 5% below the five-year average for this time of year.

There are also refinery mixing problems as the U.S. refinery industry is awash in the wrong kind of crude and too much shale oil is forcing U.S. shale oil producers to sell their oil under market value.

Refiners, on the other hand, will pay a premium for the heavy oil.

Iranian waivers?

The oil trade is still looking for a sign from the Trump administration as to whether they will look to extend waivers to buyers of Iranian oil.

Support in oil may also come for more hopes of a U.S.-China trade deal. The Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. and China are planning two rounds of face-to-face meetings as they seek to wrap up a trade deal, with negotiators aiming for a signing ceremony in late May or early June, according to people familiar with the situation.

Under the tentative schedule, U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer is set to travel to Beijing the week of April 29, the people said, with Chinese envoy Liu He coming to Washington the week of May 6. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also will be a part of the delegation to China, a senior administration official said. 

Happy Easter to all.

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