July 21 (AFP) - World
oil prices lost ground on Thursday on relief that a hurricane in
the Gulf of Mexico had had a limited effect on crude stockpiles
in the United States, dealers said.
New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for
delivery in September, shed 50 cents to 57.52 dollars per barrel
in electronic deals. The August contract had expired on
Wednesday, closing at 56.72 dollars per barrel.
In London on Thursday, the price of Brent North
Sea crude oil for delivery in September fell 43 cents to 56.22
dollars per barrel.
Data from the US government’s Department of
Energy (DoE) revealed on Wednesday a smaller-than-expected drop
in US crude inventories — despite concern that Hurricane Dennis
would affect Gulf of Mexico oil production.
"People’s expectations were far away from the
reality," according to Tetsu Emori, chief commodities strategist
at Mitsui Bussan Futures in Tokyo.
News of a smaller decline in crude reserves
caused prices to pull back, he said, adding: "When their fears
did not happen they had to sell off the market".
The DoE said US crude oil stocks fell 900,000
barrels to 320.1 million barrels for the week ending July 15.
Analysts’ forecasts were for a 3.45-million drop
in the wake of production shutdowns in the Gulf caused by
Hurricane Dennis — whose onset halted most US oil output in the
region around July 10.
The DoE also said petrol or gasoline stocks
dropped by 1.3 million barrels, less than forecasts of a
But levels of distillate products, used for
heating oil and diesel, rose by a greater-than-expected 2.3
million barrels for the week, the DoE said. That beat
expectations of a 1.7-million build.