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Oil prices fall on renewed worries of oversupply

oil prices

Concerns about an oil glut caused oil prices to drop in trading on Wednesday. Statoil photo by Ole Jørgen Bratland

Oil prices fall 2 per cent

By Devika Krishna Kumar

NEW YORK, Dec 14 (Reuters) – Oil prices fell about 2 per cent on Wednesday on renewed concerns about an oil glut sparked by a jump in crude inventories at a core U.S. storage center and OPEC forecasts of a rising surplus absent output cuts.

Inventories at the Cushing, Oklahoma, hub rose once again, the sixth build in seven weeks, data from the Energy Information Administration showed on Wednesday. The U.S. crude benchmark is priced for delivery from there.

Crude inventories overall fell by 2.6 million barrels in the last week, compared with analyst expectations for a decrease of 1.6 million barrels, the data showed.

However, traders pointed to most of the declines being in PADD 5, or the West Coast, saying that did not truly reflect supply demand fundamentals of the energy complex. Crude stocks in PADD 5 fell about 2.3 million barrels.

“This week really doesn’t point to an effort to clear inventories from PADD3 (Gulf Coast) like many expected,” said Troy Vincent, analyst at New York-based ClipperData.

“The decline in stocks is predominately from the West Coast, while Gulf Coast imports actually ticked higher and stocks only fell 400,000 b/d.”

Brent futures for February delivery fell 85 cents to $54.87 a barrel, a 1.5 per cent loss, by 12:38 p.m. EST (1738 GMT). U.S. crude fell 97 cents to $52.01 per barrel, a 1.8 per cent loss.

Meanwhile, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries on Wednesday signalled a growing oil supply surplus next year unless members implement their deal to curb output from record levels and outside producers also deliver on cutback pledges made over the weekend.

In a monthly report, OPEC said that without cuts the 2017 overhang would reach 1.24 million b/d, about 300,000 b/d higher than the forecast in its previous report.

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said it would take some time for the market to recover after the deal between OPEC and rival producers to limit supplies.

OPEC and 11 producing countries from outside the group agreed to cut almost 1.8 million b/d of production in an effort to end two years of oversupply and cheap oil.

However, Russian energy minister Alexander Novak said on Wednesday that adjustments by oilcompanies would be “voluntary” to meet Moscow’s commitment to trim output by 300,000 b/d.

“History shows that Russia has a very poor track record in keeping its promises when it comes to cutting output in cooperation with OPEC; Russia has never actually done any cutting in the past,” Michael Wittner, global head of oil research at Societe Generale said in a note.

Markets also focused on an anticipated U.S. Federal Reserve interest rate hike later on Wednesday that would likely boost the dollar, making greenback-traded fuel imports more expensive for countries using other currencies.

(Additional reporting by Ahmad Ghaddar in London and Henning Gloystein in Singapore; Editing by Alexander Smith, Meredith Mazzilli and W Simon)

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