Oil prices rise as global inventories decline on stronger than expected demand

US Hurricanes Affecting Oil Prices, Saudi Could Cut Output

U.S. crude oil inventories jumped last week as refineries continued to operate at depressed rates following hurricanes Harvey and Irma. That's below the forecast for a rise of 10.1 million barrels by analysts surveyed by S&P Global Platts.

Crude oil prices were higher early Wednesday after the IEA said the level of oil and petroleum products on the market could dip below the five-year average.

West Texas Intermediate crude was up 1% to $48.71 a barrel on Wednesday morning.

In May, Opec and non-Opec members agreed to extend production cuts of 1.8m barrels per day for a period of nine months until March 2018 but rising production from the U.S., Nigeria and Libya has undermined the oil cartel's efforts to curb excess supply.

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"The market seems to be recognizing that this is a hurricane-altered report, and is waiting to see once we get through this hurricane period", said Gene McGillian, director of market research at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut. As of 2:00 p.m. EDT Tuesday, the U.S. Energy Department said four refineries in the Gulf Coast were still closed because of issues associated with Harvey, representing about 4 percent of the total U.S. refining capacity.

Likewise, with temporary fuel shortage issues after Harvey, gasoline storage levels fell by 8.4 million barrels as companies drew from their fuel inventories to help meet demand.

Crude inventories rose 5.9 million barrels, compared with analysts' expectations for an increase of 3 million barrels, the EIA said today.

EIA estimates the price for Brent crude oil will average $51 per barrel for the year and $49 per barrel for WTI.

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