Oil Higher Ahead of EIA Report

NEW YORK (DTN) -- New York Mercantile Exchange oil futures advanced early Wednesday ahead of the Energy Information Administration's weekly supply report due at 10:30 AM ET, with the market boosted by bullish data released late Tuesday by the American Petroleum Institute and a strike by oil services workers in Norway.

API reported crude oil stocks unexpectedly fell 7.5 million bbl and gasoline supplies declined 2.45 million bbl while distillate fuels stocks increased 1.42 million bbl during the week-ended Sept. 16.

A survey ahead of the data showed the market expected crude stocks to have risen by 3.7 million bbl, gasoline supplies to have gained 500,000 bbl and distillate stocks to have declined by 200,000 bbl.

A labor strike by oil services workers called today in Norway could impact output of Brent crude from the North Sea. More than 300 workers stopped work after wage talks between oil services companies and their union broke down, raising concern that North Sea crude production could decline.

At last look, NYMEX November West Texas Intermediate crude futures were 88cts higher at $44.93 bbl, off a $45.14 one-week high on the spot continuation chart, with the October contract having expired Tuesday. The ICE November Brent futures contract was 73cts higher at $46.61 bbl, off a $46.88 two-day spot high.

In products trade, NYMEX October RBOB futures added 2.89cts to $1.3935 gallon after inside trade. NYMEX October ULSD futures were up 2.28cts at $1.4278 gallon, near a $1.4310 two-day high.

Also supporting oil futures is the potential for a deal that attempts to stabilize the market by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries following a Russian comment Tuesday that they would support a one-year cooperation pact with OPEC. OPEC will hold informal talks alongside an International Energy Forum in Algiers on Sept. 26-28.

However, gains were curbed by caution ahead of the Federal Open Market Committee's decision on interest rates due out at 2:00 PM ET. The dollar index eased after rallying to a six-week high.

In addition, the expected return to full service of Colonial Pipeline's Line 1 is likely to cap RBOB futures gains, with the contract settling lower Monday and Tuesday on expectations for the gasoline line's restart. The gasoline pipeline was shut and then placed on restrictive service after a leak was discovered on Sept. 9. The company expects full service to resume today.

George Orwel can be reached at george.orwel@dtn.com