RIYADH: Oil prices eased on Wednesday after industry data showed US crude inventories unexpectedly rose last week, signaling a potential hiccup in demand, though concerns over supply kept losses in check.
Brent crude futures fell 23 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $96.08 a barrel at 0323 GMT.
US West Texas Intermediate crude futures declined 28 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $90.22 a barrel.
US Coast Guard vessels aid in cleanup of oil spill off Louisiana
The US Coast Guard on Tuesday said it has deployed three skimming vessels and five response vessels to help clean up a spill of thousands of gallons of oil spilled into Terrebonne Bay, Louisiana when a Hilcorp oil tank platform collapsed.
Hilcorp estimated that around 13,944 gallons of crude oil entered the water, the Coast Guard said, adding that there was no reported impact on wildlife.
The Coast Guard said it has deployed 6,200 feet of containment boom along with the vessels.
It said the platform was removed as of Aug. 8, and the exact cause of the spill remained under investigation.
“Automated systems ... secured the facility and alerted operators to the collapsed tank. The platform remains secured,” a US Coast Guard spokesperson said.
According to officials, the spill occurred nearly a week after 4,000 gallons of oil were dumped into a swamp near Baton Rouge, Louisiana, as the WCC Energy Group LLC was moving oil in a storage tank, the New York Daily News reported.
The Coast Guard was still overseeing the removal efforts of that spill.
Cuba brings oil depot fire under control
Firefighters on Tuesday finally overcame what officials described as the worst fire in Cuba’s history that over five days destroyed 40 percent of the Caribbean island’s main fuel storage facility and caused massive blackouts.
Reuters witnesses reported the raging flames that ravaged a four-tank segment of the Matanzas supertanker port had died down and the towering plumes of thick black smoke streaming from the area were diminished and now mostly gray.
Matanzas is Cuba’s largest port for receiving crude oil and fuel imports. Cuban heavy crude, as well as fuel oil and diesel stored in Matanzas in 10 huge tanks, are mainly used to generate electricity on the island.
Lightning struck one fuel storage tank on Friday evening. The fire spread to a second by Sunday and engulfed the four-tank area on Monday, accompanied by huge explosions and despite efforts by local firefighters supported by more than 100 Mexican and Venezuelan reinforcements.
Firefighter Rafael Perez Garriga told Reuters on the steaming outskirts of the disaster that he worries the fire would impact the power situation in the country.
“The situation is going to be more difficult. If the thermoelectric plants are supplied with that oil, we are going to have the whole world affected, it is electricity and it affects everything,” he said.
US oil refiners, pipeline companies expect strong demand
US oil refiners and pipeline operators expect energy consumption to be strong for the second half of 2022, even though analysts and industry watchers have worried that demand could falter if the global economy enters a recession or high fuel prices deter travelers.
The company outlooks suggest a stronger view than recent data showing weakness in US fuel demand, particularly in gasoline, where consumption recently hit its lowest level since February even though this is the middle of the peak summer driving season.
US gasoline products supplied over the past four weeks recently fell below 2020’s level for the same time of year, when the US was in the depths of the pandemic.
Energy companies including Energy Transfer and PBF Energy say energy demand will be strong in the second half of 2022, according to a Reuters review of company earnings calls.
(With input from Reuters)