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Oil prices inch lower and move into wait-and-see mode
by Daniel J. Graeber
Washington (UPI) Oct 4, 2017

Crude oil prices on Wednesday continued to drift away from recent highs on signs the U.S. energy sector was returning to normal following recent hurricanes.

Crude oil prices have moved lower for each session in October after rallying close to one-year highs during the previous month. Seasonal norms were upended in late August when Hurricane Harvey hit the large concentration of refineries in the U.S. Gulf Coast and the sector was further interrupted when Hurricane Irma hit Florida, which has no refineries of its own.

In a status update from Tuesday, the U.S. Energy Department said another refinery started the process of returning to normal operations, but six were still operating at reduced rates. More than 15 percent of total U.S. refining capacity was impacted by Harvey at its peak, with pipelines from the region operating intermittently and the federal government releasing oil from its strategic reserves in order to offset the market strains.

Late Tuesday, the American Petroleum Institute published data showing crude oil inventories dropped about 4.1 million barrels and gasoline inventories grew by 4.2 million barrels.

"A full gasoline tank as far as supply goes is overshadowing the big crude oil supply draw," Phil Flynn, a senior market analyst for the PRICE Futures Group in Chicago, said in an emailed market report. "The build in supply is raising concern that recent strong almost record gasoline demand may be cooling off."

Crude oil prices were moving closer to even moments before the opening bell in New York. The price for Brent crude oil and West Texas Intermediate were only fractions of a percent lower than the close on Tuesday, trading at $55.95 per barrel and $50.39 per barrel, respectively.

Traders may be watching for any sort of maneuvers coming from a week-long energy summit under way in Russia. The country's energy minister, Alexander Novak, said additional measures to monitor exports were under consideration. Russia is part of a committee monitoring production from the parties to an effort led by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to balance the market with production cuts, and exports would add another layer of accountability.

Russian President Vladimir Putin was taking the podium in the minutes before the start of Wall Street trading.

Markets will react later in the day when the U.S. Energy Information Administration releases formal data on oil and gasoline inventories. Analysts responding to commodity group S&P Global Platts said they expected to see a draw on U.S. crude oil inventories of around 1.5 million barrels, while U.S. gasoline inventories climb 1.5 million barrels.

Mixed results from new North Sea drilling
Washington (UPI) Oct 3, 2017
The Norwegian government said Tuesday it confirmed a discovery of oil and gas in the North Sea, but said efforts to find new reserves in untested waters failed. The Norwegian government published data Tuesday from an appraisal well drilled by Aker BP, a merger of Norwegian energy companies and a subsidiary of BP, about 7 miles away from the producing Froy filed in the North Sea. The Nor ... read more

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