Oil prices eased from one-month highs on Wednesday, as a surprise increase in U.S. crude inventories to a record high offset support from an outage at the largest UK North Sea oilfield.
Prices rose early, then turned negative after the U.S. government reported a weekly rise in crude inventories of 1.6 million barrels. Analyst had expected a decrease of 435,000 barrels, and the build reported by the Energy Information Administration came as a double surprise after an industry group had reported a draw.
"The crude build caught the market leaning the wrong way. Crude exports dropped to 575,000 bpd this week, versus over 1 million bpd last week," said David Thompson, executive vice-president at Powerhouse, a commodities-focused broker in Washington.
"The selling most likely includes a fair number of sell stops being hit."