Crude oil prices eased in Asia on Wednesday after Tropical Storm Gordon did not directly hit major energy production sites in the Gulf of Mexico, with traders looking ahead to weekly inventory figures.
ICE Brent crude oil futures dropped 0.654% to $77.67 a barrel, while NYMEX WTI fell 0.96% to $69.20 a barrel.
Talos Energy, Exxon Mobil and Chevron on Tuesday evacuated employees and shut several platforms in the eastern Gulf of Mexico as Gordon headed for landfall on the Alabama-Mississippi border.
That followed Anadarko Petroleum Corp’s decision on Monday to evacuate staff and shut production at two oil platforms in the northern Gulf of Mexico.
Other major oil producers, including ConocoPhillips, BP and Royal Dutch Shell continued to operate and were monitoring conditions. The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, the largest privately owned crude terminal in the United States, also said it was operating normally.
A typhoon hit Japan’s east coast overnight, with some damage to oil refineries in the Osaka region, although JXTG said its operations were not significantly affected.
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The American Petroleum Institute reports its weekly estimates of crude and refined product stocks on Wednesday at 4:30 pm EDT, a day later than normal because for a holiday Monday in the US.
Analysts forecast a drop of 1.925 million barrels for crude inventories, and a 1.475 million barrels drop in gasoline stocks and a 548,000 build in distillate supplies.
The Energy Information Administration will report official data on Thursday at 10:30 am EDT, also a day later than normal.
Elsewhere, Saudi Arabia wants oil to stay between $70 and $80 a barrel for now as the world’s biggest crude exporter strikes a balance between maximizing revenue and keeping a lid on prices until US congressional elections, OPEC and industry sources told Reuters.
A stronger dollar is also hitting emerging market demand in key importers such as India. As well, ICICI Securities said the US may consider waiving sanctions on Iran imports by India.
“India has offered to cut imports from Iran by 50% in return for US waiver to continue imports, ICICI said in a note to clients. “India expects a response from US in Sep’18, which if positive may trigger correction in oil prices.”
US natural gas futures were flat at $2.814 per million British thermal units (mmBtu).
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