Why oil prices keep falling with USA refineries knocked out by storm
31 August, 2017, 01:36 | Author: Valerie Burke
But in early afternoon trade in Asia Tuesday, WTI edged up 22 cents to $46.79 while Brent added 17 cents to $52.06.
About 16% of total USA refining capacity, or 3 million barrels per day (bpd), has been lost since Hurricane Harvey descended on Texas on Saturday as the most powerful storm to hit the state in over 50 years, killing at least nine people and causing catastrophic flooding in the heartland of America's petroleum industry.
But global oil prices have continued to fall. Oil prices need a so-called Goldilocks number - one that's not so high that it stimulates robust production and not so low that it stymies the industry - and USA operators are reacting as the market remains stuck near the $50 per barrel level.
In addition to shutting oil refineries, about 1.4 million bpd of U.S. crude production has been disrupted, equivalent to 15 percent of total output, Goldman Sachs said.
Tropical Storm Harvey, which has now been downgraded from a hurricane, hit oil refiners harder than crude producers.
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Contrary to analysts' bullish forecasts before Harvey arrived, the price for West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude dropped almost three percent on Monday and settled at $46.57 - the worst daily performance since July 7.
Preparing for more rain and floods, Total cut production to 53% of capacity at its 225,500 bpd Port Arthur refinery, reported a leading research agency.
Spot earnings for medium range (MR) tankers in the US Gulf may take a hit if refineries along the Texas coast remain shut in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
After settlement, industry group the American Petroleum Institute said its data showed that last week USA crude stocks fell, while gasoline inventories increased and distillate stocks drew.
Yet crude remains in ample supply, resulting in low prices, with Jefferies bank saying it is lowering its fourth-quarter Brent oil price estimates to $55 a barrel from $60 and its 2018 forecast to $57 from $64.
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