Oil Prices Slip as Inventories Build

Oil prices moved into negative country late morning Wednesday after plummeting more than 3% in the previous session, weighed down by U.S. government data that showed large builds in refined product stockpiles.

Brent crude futures lost 20 cents to $64.15 U.S. a barrel. Both benchmarks had shed more than 3% on Tuesday.

West Texas Intermediate crude futures fell 39 cents at $57.23 a barrel.

Data released Wednesday by the U.S. Energy Information Administration revealed gasoline inventories increased by 3.6 million barrels last week, offsetting a 3.1-million-barrel drop in U.S. crude.

The American Petroleum Institute said Tuesday that crude inventories fell by 1.4 million barrels in the week to July 12 to 460 million barrels. That compared with analyst expectations for a drop of 2.7 million.

The smaller-than-expected decline suggested production shut-ins caused by Hurricane Barry late last week had little impact on inventories.

More than half of daily crude production in the Gulf of Mexico remained offline on Tuesday in the wake of Hurricane Barry, the U.S. drilling regulator said, as most oil companies were re-staffing facilities to resume production.

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said 1.1 million barrels per day of oil, or 58% of the region’s total, and 1.4 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas output remained shut.