Climbing Stockpiles Weigh on Oil Prices

Oil prices fell on Wednesday after weekly U.S. government data showing stockpiles of crude oil and gasoline rose weighed on an otherwise hot petroleum market.

Data released by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed U.S. crude inventories increased by 2.2 million barrels in the week to April 20.

Brent crude oil futures were down 40 cents at $73.46 U.S. a barrel mid-morning Wednesday, slipping further from the November 2014 high of $75.47 reached on Tuesday.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate futures were down 22 cents at $67.48 U.S. a barrel, also off the late-2014 highs of $69.56 a barrel marked earlier in April.

Despite Wednesday's dips, which traders said were also a result of profit-taking after Tuesday's highs, many analysts say the period of oversupply that started in 2014 has now ended due to supply disruptions and strong demand.

That has been driven by production cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), introduced in 2017 with the aim of propping up the market, but also because of political risk to supplies in the Middle East, Venezuela and Africa.

U.S. crude oil production has already shot up by more than a quarter since mid-2016 to over 10.54 million barrels per day (bpd), taking it past Saudi Arabia's output of around 10 million bpd. Only Russia currently produces more, at almost 11 million bpd.