Oil prices slumped from a $101.32 record high on Thursday after the U.S. government reported crude inventories rose last week for their sixth straight increase.
The Energy Department said today in a weekly report that crude supplies rose 4.2 million barrels to 305.3 million barrels the last week, going beyond forecasts ranging from 2.3 to 2.9 million barrels.
It is the highest increase since November. In the past six weeks, crude oil stockpiles have risen 7.9 percent, Bloomberg noted.
Crude oil futures for April fell on Thursday $2.17, or 2.18 percent to $97.53 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 4:08 p.m.
The same report showed gasoline supplies increased to their highest level since 1994 by 1 million barrels to 230.3 million barrels. Supplies of distillates (heating oil included) fell 4.5 million barrels surpassing a forecast of a 1.5 million drop.
Crude futures for March hit a record high of $101.32 on Wednesday, the same day its contract expired. Prices surged on signs the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries may cut production during its meeting on March 5. Oil prices have increased from below $50 a barrel at the beginning of 2007.
The current battle between state-run Petroleos de Venezuela and Exxon Mobil Corp., in addition to threats of militant attacks in Nigeria generated concerns on crude supplies, helping oil prices rise yesterday.
Furthermore, the total fuel demand in the past four weeks averaged 20.7 million barrels a day or 1.1 percent lower than the previous year, the Department of Energy said. Demand is calculated by measuring shipments from refineries, pipelines and terminals.
In the report, U.S. Energy Department informed today that refineries operated at 83.5 of its total capacity.
Brent crude declined $2.28 or 2.31 percent to settle at $96.29 a barrel on the London ICE Futures Exchange.