Crude oil prices reached yet another new high Wednesday after the US Energy Information Administration reported that crude oil stockpiles in the United States fell more than expected last week.
According to the EIA, inventories of crude oil dropped 2 million barrels in the week ending 27 June to 299.8 million barrels, while gasoline stockpiles were up more than expected in adding 2.1 million barrels while distillates in storage, including heating oil and diesel fuel, were up 1.3 million barrels in the week.
The gains in gasoline and distillates pointed to a possible erosion of demand in the wake of record high pump prices for gasoline and diesel.
West Texas Intermediate crude for August delivery was as high as $143.91 per barrel, a new record, shortly before the close of floor trade on the New York Mercantile Exchange but by the close the contract had fallen back to $143.71 per barrel, a gain of $2.77 over Tuesday’s close.
Meanwhile, Brent crude added $3.64 to $144.31 per barrel after going as high as $144.65 per barrel in earlier trade.
Nymex August gasoline futures were up 3 cents to $3.54 per gallon while August heating oil were 13 cents higher to $4.07 per gallon.
Concerns about a possible conflict between Israel Iran and the effects such an attack might have on oil prices continued, helping push prices higher on mixed messages from Iranian officials.
Iran’s oil minister said that while his country would respond to any attack, it would not cut oil deliveries.
On the other hand, the Iranian foreign minister would not take an attempt to block shipping lanes through the Strait of Hormuz off the table in an event of an attack by Israel or the United States, but he added that he does not believe such an attack will take place.
In addition, the New York Mercantile Exchange said it will raise the amount of money traders must post to trade oil and related futures on the exchange.
The at-the-pump price for regular unleaded gasoline was up 0.5 cent to a record $4.092 per gallon, a new high, ahead of the Independence Day holiday weekend in the United States.