LONDON: Oil fell below $62 a barrel on Wednesday after a report showed a rise in U.S. crude inventories, while concerns about the impact on global supplies of U.S. sanctions on Venezuela faded.
U.S. crude inventories rose by 2.5 million barrels last week, according to industry group the American Petroleum Institute, and gasoline stocks also increased. The governments official supply report due later on Wednesday.
The fact that U.S. crude oil and gasoline stocks rose more sharply than expected, as reported by the API after close of trading yesterday, is weighing on prices, said Carsten Fritsch, analyst at Commerzbank.
Brent crude, the global benchmark, slipped 49 cents to $61.49 a barrel as of 1053 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was down 55 cents at $53.11.
The U.S. announced sanctions on Venezuelas state oil company last week, a move which could further curb supplies, although the development has yet to result in steep price gains..
It would seem that the market is really not too worried yet about the potential loss of Venezuelan barrels, said analysts at JBC Energy in a report.
This is either because the market assumes that the size of the impact will not be large, or at least it will be of short enough duration.
Worries about weaker global economic growth and the trade dispute between the United States and China have also weighed on the market. Oil fell on Tuesday after a survey showed euro zone business expansion nearly stalled in January.
In his State of the Union address, U.S. President Donald Trump said a trade deal was possible with China. Senior U.S. and Chinese officials are poised to start another round of trade talks next week.
Supply cuts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, including Russia, have been supporting prices. Venezuela, an OPEC member, is like Iran and Libya exempt from making voluntary curbs under the deal.
The producers known as OPEC+ began cutting production from last month to avert a new supply glut and OPEC has delivered almost three-quarters of its pledged cutback already, according to a Reuters survey.
Fritsch of Commerzbank said the Venezuelan issue could still drive oil higher.
The price has yet to react in any noticeable way, he said. That said, if the other OPEC countries fail to offset this outage, the oil market could quickly become undersupplied, driving the price up.