Reports indicate a higher than expected rise in crude stocks to 5.4 million barrels last week, the highest level in nearly three years, pushing prices below US$54. Light crude for May delivery stood nearly US$4 below an all-time peak of $57.60 set March 17. Rising fuel stocks in the U.S., the world's biggest energy consumer, have helped push prices down from last month's peak.
OPEC lifted its formal output ceiling by 500,000 bpd to 27.5 million bpd earlier this month in an effort to pump up second-quarter global stocks, creating a cushion for anticipated robust fourth-quarter demand. Output from OPEC is close to a 25-year high and non-OPEC producers are pumping at full tilt, leaving little in the supply chain for any output hitch.