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US Creates Increased Crude Oil Market Supply, Prices Drop

The price of oil dropped over the last two weeks following unusually high prices in the weeks prior, which likely contributed to increased retail sales in the US. Analysts believe that the recent decline is the result of deliberate US policies put into place to alleviate the pressure of increasing prices.

These policies including increased domestic production and waiving sanctions on 8 of Iran’s biggest oil customers including China and India in order to facilitate Iran selling them oil to thus oversupply the market and drive down prices.

Key Takeaways

  • The week ending November 9, 2018 saw US crude oil refinery inputs average a production of 16.4 million barrels of oil per day, 24,000 bpd higher than the previous week’s average.
  • Refineries operated at 90.1% of their capacity last week.
  • Gasoline production increased last week with an average of 10.1 million bpd.
  • Distillate fuel increased with an average if 5.0 million bpd.

US crude oil imports decreased by 87,000 bpd last week with a reading of 7.5 million barrels per day which is 3.1% less than last year over the same period.

Crude oil inventories, not including those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, are now up by an annual 5% when compared to the 5-year average this time last year. Inventories currently stand at 442.1 million barrels with an increase of 10.3 million barrels compared to last week.

On the other hand, motor gasoline inventories decreased by 1.4 million barrels and are 7% above the 5-year average for this time of the year. Using the same timeframe metric, distillate fuel inventories are up 8% and propane inventories are down.

Oil and Gold

The prices of gold and oil are quite strongly linked, although the relationship does devolve at times. Oil and gold both have an inverse reaction to the value of the dollar and are both affected by inflation.

As commodities weighted in the BBG Commodities Index they have a strong connection with gold often used as a hedge  -  it’s common for falling energy prices to cause a drop in oil prices which in turn causes oil companies to sell off their gold hedge, resulting in further sell-offs throughout the market. Oil impacts the price of gold mostly when there are sudden changes in oil prices due to geopolitical events.

Expert Outlook

Citigroup’s head of commodities Ed Morse spoke to Bloomberg about the price action in the oil industry, saying:

“The oversupply in the market is a made-in-America phenomenon. It’s the unexpected consequences of American policy and the unintended impact of technological changes that made this historically unprecedented arena for production growth blossom.”