© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: An oil pump of IPC Petroleum France is seen at sunset outside Soudron, near Reims, France, August 24, 2022. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol
By Laila Kearney
(Reuters) – Oil prices were mixed in early Asian trade on Wednesday as support from U.S. production cuts caused by Hurricane Ian contended with crude storage builds and a strong dollar.
futures fell 4 cents, or 0.1%, to $86.23 per barrel by 0022 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 22 cents at $78.03 per barrel.
Producers began returning workers to offshore oil platforms after shutting in output ahead of Hurricane Ian, which entered the U.S. Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday and is forecast to become a dangerous Category 4 storm over the warm waters of the Gulf.
About 190,000 barrels per day of oil production, or 11% of the Gulf’s total were shut-in, according to offshore regulator the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE). Producers lost 184 million cubic feet of , or nearly 9% of daily output. Personnel were evacuated from 14 production platforms and rigs, the BSEE said.
Ian is the first hurricane this year to disrupt oil and gas production in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, which produces about 15% of the nation’s crude oil and 5% of dry natural gas.
Limiting oil prices was the U.S. dollar. The dollar, which typically trades inversely with oil, remained near a 20-year high.
Estimates of U.S. oil in storage also sent mixed messages about oil prices.
While oil in storage rose by about 4.2 million barrels for the week ended Sept. 23, according to market sources on Tuesday citing figures from industry group the American Petroleum Institute, gasoline inventories fell by about 1 million barrels.
Distillate stocks rose by about 438,000 barrels, according to the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity. [API/S]
The report comes ahead of official Energy Information Administration data on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. EDT.