“Experts Expect”: Crude Numbers

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U.S. strategic petroleum reserve inventory, November 20, 2007. Source: DOE. Click to zoom.

El Financiero (Mexico) features a story on todays energy inventory announcement from the DOE.

Comparing coverage of the story, I find there is a bit of an apparent Rashomon effect over what consensus estimates were — how much of a surprise the suprise represented.

Washington, 21 de noviembre.- Las existencias de crudo en EU registraron la semana pasada un recorte de 1.1 millones de barriles, en contra de lo esperado, lo que puede provocar que los precios del petróleo superen hoy los 100 dólares, un récord histórico.

The crude oil reserves of the United States were cut last week by 1.1 million barrels, contrary to expectations, which could cause the price of oil to exceed the $100 mark today, marking a new historical record.

The W$J reports just now — what time is it in New York at the moment, anyway? — that oil prices are remaining flat.

Early today, AFP had previewed the announcement to be made this morning:

At 1530 GMT on Wednesday, the US government’s Energy Information Administration publishes its report on crude stockpiles for the week ended Nov. 16. Traders are on tenterhooks over the update because the United States is the world’s biggest consumer of energy, ahead of number two China. Market expectations are that US crude oil reserves rose by 750,000 barrels last week. US distillate inventories, which include heating fuel and diesel, are expected to drop by 450,000 barrels.

I cannot seem to find that press release on the EIA Web site.

Where is my government data at the speed of the Internet, I ask you?

Algunos analistas habían anticipado un incremento cercano al millón de barriles en las reservas de petróleo, previsión muy distinta a lo ocurrido en la semana que acabó el 16 de noviembre, cuando cayeron en 1.1 millones de barriles.

Some analysts had anticipated an increase of some million barrels in the petroleum reserves, a prediction very different from the result during the week ending November 16, when the figure was cut by 1.1 million barrels.

What analysts thought this? Why? MarketWatch is reporting just now:

Analysts surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had been expecting an increase of 800,000 barrels.

Yes, but the Wall Street Journal is reporting as follows:

Crude-oil futures were steady Wednesday, failing to breach $100 a barrel, after U.S. data showed a surprise drop in oil inventories last week. … U.S. Department of Energy released figures showing crude oil stockpiles fell 1.1 million barrels, their fourth decline in the past five weeks. Analysts surveyed by Dow Jones had predicted a 700,000-barrel increase.

Where do the different numbers, attributed to the same source, come from?

Con este descenso, las existencias de crudo en Estados Unidos se situaron en 313.6 millones, lo que supone casi un siete por ciento por debajo del nivel que tenían el año pasado.

With the decrease, U.S. domestic crude reserves amount to some 313.6 million barrels, nearly 7% below last year’s level.

Los inventarios de gasolina crecieron en 200 mil millones de barriles, muy por debajo del millón de barriles de aumento que esperaban los expertos.

Gasoline inventories grew by 200,000 barrels, far below the million barrels experts expected.

Con este incremento, las existencias de gasolina se encuentran en 195.2 millones de barriles, un 4.5 por ciento por debajo del año pasado, en un momento en que se inicia en EU uno de los puentes festivos más intensos, el de Acción de Gracias, con casi 40 millones de desplazamientos previstos.

Which this increase, gasoline reserves stand at about 195.2 million barrels, 4.5% below last year, at a moment when the U.S. enters one of its most active holiday seasons, with nearly 40 million trips projected.

Los inventarios de destilados cayeron en 2.4 millones de barriles, cuando los especialistas esperaban una baja moderada.

Distillate inventories fell by 2.4 million barrels. Experts had expected a more moderate drop.

De esta manera, las existencias de destilados se situaron en 131 millones de barriles, un 8 por ciento por debajo del año pasado.

Thus, distillate reserves stand at around 131 million barrels, some 8% below last year.  

I know nothing about energy trading, so I am just idly curious as to the source of the fuzziness in the numbers.  And what does the drop in reserves mean, anyway? Did the surge being run by Gen. Petraeus burn more gas than expected? Or is this one of those paper losses type of dealies?

Why did the significant surprise not boost the price past $100? The W$J

Crude-oil stocks at Cushing, Okla, the delivery point for the Nymex crude oil futures contract, rose 1.179 million barrels, or 8.8%, in the week ended Nov. 16, possibly contributing to the tempered reaction in crude oil markets.

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