Oil steadies below $72 after US gasoline build

LONDON - Oil steadied below $72 a barrel on Thursday after a surprising increase in US gasoline stocks started a two-percent slide the previous day.

By (Reuters)

Published: Thu 24 Aug 2006, 7:39 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 2:20 PM

The possibility of United Nations sanctions against Iran, the world’s fourth biggest oil exporter, would keep the price within sight of US oil’s $78.40 all-time-high, analysts said.

Traders kept a watchful eye on gathering storms in the Caribbean and Atlantic. Last year’s hurricane season temporarily shut a quarter of US oil and fuel production.

US crude was down 4 cents at $71.72 a barrel by 1217 GMT, after falling $1.34 on Wednesday. London Brent crude was up 8 cents to $72.10 a barrel.

“The market is stuck between gasoline, which is a weight, and developing tropical storms. Then there is the steady flow of soundbites on Iran,” said Olivier Jakob, an analyst at Swiss-based Petromatrix.

US data on Wednesday showed a surprising 400,000 barrels build in gasoline stocks in the world’s top consumer.

NYMEX gasoline futures dropped sharply and continued to slide on Thursday, off 0.9 percent.

BNP Paribas noted gasoline stocks typically fall substantially at this time of year, adding: “The summer is over for the gasoline bulls.”

The downside was limited by worries over Iran.

The United States said on Wednesday that Tehran’s response to incentives to stop enriching uranium fell short of the conditions set by the U.N. Security Council.

The Council has demanded Iran halt its nuclear work by a deadline of Aug. 31 or it could face sanctions. Traders fear oil supplies could be disrupted.

Oil markets paid little heed to news late on Wednesday that BP had cut another 90,000 barrels per day of oil output at its Prudhoe Bay field in Alaska because of a technical fault.

But BP’s shares fell.

BP has had to shut half of the Prudhoe Bay field, the biggest in the United States, because of pipeline corrosion.

“The bad news from BP is coming in small increments,” said Jakob. “Yesterday we learned there was a leak in the US Gulf.”

US crude remains nearly 18 percent up this year.

“It’s fascinating how the market has managed to remain so high given the fundamentals,” said John Waterlow, an oil analyst at Wood MacKenzie. “There’s plenty of supply.”

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