US crude stockpiles gained 2.2 million barrels last week, versus analyst expectations for a 1.1-million-barrel drop, according to the Energy Information Administration. Gasoline supplies also rose by 800,000 barrels, and distillate stocks were down by 2.6 million barrels.
US crude exports climbed to a 25-year high of 2.33 million barrels per day last week, bringing the average for this month to 1.76 million barrels per day, according to the Energy Information Administration. Export volumes above 2 million barrels per day should become the new normal this summer as the widening price gap between West Texas Intermediate and Brent spurs demand for US oil.
Analysts expect North American explorers to report modest increases in oil and natural gas production in the first quarter of the year, with the exception of a handful of gas operators, including Gulfport Energy, which boosted gas production during the quarter by 35%. "We do not think companies will pivot to more aggressive programs at this time as E&Ps could be hit by the potential risk of incremental service cost inflation if oil prices hold these levels," said The Williams Capital Group analyst Gabriele Sorbara.
The recent decline in the price of Midland, Texas, crude to three-year lows is expected to give a financial boost to small, independent US refiners such as Delek US Holdings and HollyFrontier, whose facilities are equipped to process light, sweet crude from West Texas. "To have your major feedstock be in such abundant supply is unequivocally a positive for US refining," said Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. analyst Matthew Blair.
The Trump administration's tax overhaul may force pipeline companies such as Williams Cos. and Enbridge to refund as much as $18.5 billion of the money they charged to drillers, utilities and United Airlines before the new tax rules took effect. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will only issue a decision on potential refunds and timing after reviewing comments from the industry.
Chevron has finished installing its deepwater Big Foot platform, which was damaged by US Gulf of Mexico currents during construction in 2015. The platform, which has the capacity for 75,000 barrels of oil and 25 million cubic feet of natural gas per day, is expected to produce its first oil late this year.
Kuwait Energy began producing natural gas and gas condensates Wednesday from Iraq's Siba field south of Basra. Siba, the first gas field to reach production in southern Iraq, is producing 25 million cubic feet of gas per day but may hit a daily rate of 100 million cubic feet by year's end, an Iraqi oil official said.
Lava from the Kilauea volcano's summit crater lava lake overflowed into the Halemaumau Crater in Hawaii on Wednesday. The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory issued a notice Tuesday about the high level at the lava lake, which last overflowed in 2016.
Tullow Oil plans to halt production from its eight oilfields in the North Sea in the third quarter and plug the fields' wells by the end of the year. The wells have produced only 2,700 barrels of oil per day this year.
ExxonMobil this month started drilling an exploration well at the Liza oilfield in the Stabroek block off the coast of Guyana. The Liza development could begin production in 2020 using a floating production, storage and offloading vessel.
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