Oil prices falter out of the Wednesday gate on demand sentiment

The price for Brent crude oil is hovering around the $65 per barrel range, after peaking above $70 in January.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |  Feb. 21, 2018 at 10:06 AM
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Feb. 21 (UPI) -- Anticipation of gains in U.S. crude oil production and long-term forecasts for an energy market shift sent crude oil prices lower in early Wednesday trading.

"We are seeing growing competition between different energy sources, driven by abundant energy supplies, and continued improvements in energy efficiency," Spencer Dale, a chief economist at BP, said in a statement marking the company's much-lauded annual review. "As the world learns to do more with less, demand for energy will be met by the most diverse fuels mix we have ever seen."

Crude oil prices topped $70 per barrel in January on expectations that global economic momentum would translate to robust demand for petroleum products. BP's review found demand accelerates, but begins to peak mid-century and renewables become the fastest-growing fuel source.

U.S. crude oil production, meanwhile, has added to supply-side concerns now that it's been holding steady at about 10 million barrels per day. Last week, federal data show the cumulative average for crude oil production to Feb. 9 was 11 percent higher than the same period last year.

Petroleum product inventories have been building consistently for much of February. Total U.S. commercial inventories are on the lower end of average for this time of year, but motor gasoline is at the upper range. New federal data are published Thursday, delayed one day by the federal holiday Monday in the United States.

The price for Brent crude oil, the global benchmark for the price of oil, was down 0.46 percent as of 9:18 a.m. EST to $64.95 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark, was down 0.91 percent to $61.23 per barrel.

Crude oil prices have been moving higher in general since the middle of last year, lending support to industry activity in the exploration and production side of the sector.

Rig company Transocean, however, said it was still coping with a weaker market condition and, while optimistic about the recovery so far, demand for some of its services in the deepwater sector were "not as strong."

Ole Hanson, the head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank, told UPI the price for oil may be stuck in a bit of a range as it seeks momentum.

"I believe we have found the ceiling but still need confirmation that a bottom has been established," he said.

Elsewhere, Austrian energy company OMV returned to profit in the fourth quarter, though sales revenue was somewhat lower than the same period last year. On the price of oil, the company said it was anticipating an average price for Brent at $60 per barrel for 2018.

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