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Oil Prices Slip Amidst Surprise Inventory in US Crude Stocks.

Oil prices fell on Wednesday after industry data showed a surprise build in U.S. crude stocks last week as a deep freeze in the southern states curbed demand from refineries that were forced to shut.

Crude stockpiles rose by 1-million barrels in the week to February 19, the American Petroleum Institute (API) reported on Tuesday, against estimates for a draw of 5.2-million barrels in a Reuters poll.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were down 56 cents or 0.9% at $61.11 a barrel at 0506 GMT, after slipping 3 cents on Tuesday.

Brent crude futures fell 35 cents, or 0.5%, to $65.02 a barrel, erasing Tuesday’s 13 cents gain.

The price retreat is being seen as a pause following a rally of more than 26% to 13-month highs in both Brent and WTI since the start of the year.

Prices have jumped due to the U.S. supply disruption and supply discipline by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies, together called OPEC+, led by an extra 1 million BPD cut by Saudi Arabia.

Viva Energy Expresses Optimism in Oil

Viva Energy CEO Scott Wyatt has expressed confidence that federal government rescue talks will deliver the long-term support required to retain a local oil-refining industry as the closure of two refineries escalate fears about fuel security and large-scale job losses.

Viva, owner of the 65-year-old Geelong oil refinery, on Wednesday revealed the plant’s losses had blown out to $95 million in the past year after COVID-19 travel bans wiped out demand for petrol, diesel and jet fuel and battered the refinery’s already-strained profit margins.

Mr Wyatt said discussions with the federal government were ongoing to develop the structure of a 10-year, $2.3 billion scheme to support oil refineries beyond July 1 and he was confident the “right outcome” would be found.