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Oil steadies as US crude drawdown faces Covid-19 surge

Oil steadies as US crude drawdown faces Covid-19 surge

18 Aug 2021

NEW YORK: prices were little changed on Wednesday after four straight days of declines, helped by a bigger-than-expected drawdown in US crude inventories, though investors remain worried about the outlook for fuel demand due to a global surge in Covid-19 cases.

Brent crude was down 3 cents to $69 a barrel by 10:42 a.m. EDT (1442 GMT). US WTI crude oil lost 21 cents to $66.38 a barrel.

US crude inventories fell 3.2 million barrels last week to 435.5 million barrels, their lowest since January 2020 and more than anticipated. Gasoline stocks, however, rose modestly, which kept the market from moving up given ongoing worries about coronavirus.

“The market is being dragged down on a disappointing gasoline inventory build as we make our way into the Labor Day weekend,” said Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates in Houston, Texas, referring to the Sept.6 US holiday.

The four-week average of overall product supplied to the market – a measure of demand – was 20.8 million barrels per day, in line with pre-coronavirus levels from 2019.

US crude production rose to 11.4 million bpd, though weekly figures are volatile. Shale oil production, which accounts for most of US output, is expected to rise to 8.1 million bpd in September, highest since April 2020, according to the Energy Information Administration’s monthly drilling output report.