(New York) Oil prices lost altitude on Wednesday after the publication of a report indicating a surprise jump in US crude stocks, which worried the market about the relationship between supply and demand.

The price of a barrel of Brent from the North Sea, for delivery in March, ended down 1.01%, at $76.80.

As for the barrel of American West Texas Intermediate (WTI), due in February, it dropped 1.20%, to 71.37 dollars.

Prices had initially climbed, with WTI rising as much as 1.84%, before the weekly report from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) threw a chill on the market.

According to the document, commercial crude inventories in the United States increased by 1.3 million barrels during the week ended January 5.

This figure caught operators off guard, because analysts were counting on a slight drop of 150,000 barrels, according to a consensus established by the Bloomberg agency.

“It was an extremely bad report” for prices, said Schork Group analyst Stephen Schork.

This unexpected jump in American trade reserves is, in part, attributable to the slowdown in exports, down 37% over the week, while imports held up better (-9%).

Another notable fact, gasoline stocks gained 8 million barrels, after having already appreciated by 10.9 million barrels a week earlier.

This is the second largest increase ever recorded over two weeks, according to Stephen Schork.

“This series of increases (in stocks) offsets concerns about the situation in the Red Sea and disruptions in Libya,” according to Kpler analyst Matt Smith.

However, refined products delivered to the US market rose 2.8%.

“The demand figures are good,” noted Stephen Schork, “but we have too much inventory and production continues to exceed demand.”

In question, the United States, which produces 13.2 million barrels every day, a figure close to its absolute record, but also Iran, Venezuela, Brazil and Guyana which are accelerating the pace.

Faced with this situation, Saudi Arabia, which has just announced a marked reduction in its prices for February, is unable to regain control.

“The Saudis no longer have the power they had ten years ago,” says Stephen Schork, when the kingdom allowed itself to flood the market to deliberately lower prices and cause a shale oil crisis. in the USA.

“They don’t have many bullets left in the magazine,” insists the analyst, “they can only keep the same positioning, and try to force the other members of OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Producing Countries) to hold their commitments.”