Oil market news
Crude oil prices moved to the downside in early trading hours on Thursday as concerns over a potential reduction in gasoline consumption weighed on market sentiment.
The US West Texas Intermediate crude futures traded 0.09 percent lower at $45.92 per barrel as of 05:20 GMT, while the London based Brent contracts on the ICE Futures Exchange in London were down 0.08 percent to $50.82 a barrel.
Oil benchmarks settled in red territory on Wednesday, as the tropical storm Harvey continued to keep US refineries inoperative, while official inventories from the Energy Department showed a nine straight weekly decline in crude stockpiles.
The situation in the Gulf Coast remains critical due to continuous heavy flooding affecting key refineries. Ten oil plants along the coast were forced to shut down operations to date.
Experts noted that shutting down refineries could have a cascade effect on production as oil companies would face a hard time finding other places to send their crude for processing.
To prevent shortage, the Environmental Protection Agency said on Wednesday it will allow sale of gasoline that does not comply with the Clean Air Act in a dozen states.
The Energy Information Administration said crude inventories dropped 5.4 million barrels in the week ended August 25, outperforming expectations of a 1.9 million barrels decline.
The report also showed gasoline supplies rising by 35,000 barrels against a forecasted drop of 989,000 bls. Distillates added 748,000 bls while analysts predicted a 846,000 barrels draw.
A day earlier, the American Petroleum Institute said crude inventories fell by 5.8 million barrels. Now traders will be looking ahead to a fresh oil rig count from Baker Hughes on Friday.