Oil Stocks Hit Two-Year High in Europe Hub

The amount of crude stored at the world’s largest oil-trading hub has hit a two-year high, according to data released on Monday, in another sign that the world has an oversupply of petroleum that won’t end soon.

Crude stocks reached 60.6 million barrels in June at a network of storage tanks in the Dutch ports of Amsterdam and Rotterdam and Belgium’s Antwerp, a hub known as ARA, according to Genscape. That is a record since the Louisville, Ky.-based information company started tracking ARA storage in 2013.

The stocks have risen by 10 million barrels since April 3 alone, Genscape said.

The European data adds another note of caution for an oil market still recovering from a historic collapse last year that saw prices fall to less than $47 a barrels from highs of $114. The price for the global benchmark, Brent crude, was trading at about $61 a barrel on Monday in London.

ARA’s stocks aren’t watched as closely as American storage numbers, which have driven the market in recent weeks as a barometer of the health of the U.S. oil industry.
But it is another sign of the imbalance between supply and demand that has weighed on oil markets, analysts said. Despite signs that consumers are using more oil products, the world is still producing almost two million barrels of crude oil above demand on any given day, according to the International Energy Agency, which monitors such data for industrialized nations.

“With such an inventory overhang in Europe, we cannot expect an upside in crude prices,” said Amrita Sen, chief oil analyst at Energy Aspects, a research consultancy in London.

The world’s biggest oil companies send much of their product to ARA, where crude is bought and sold by traders and generally sent into Europe’s intricate canal network to reach refiners and consumers in Germany, France or Switzerland. The supplies mostly come from oil produced in the North Sea and West Africa.

Of late, that crude, especially from Africa, has been taking longer to sell, causing it to sit longer at ARA. For instance, Nigerian oil has been pushed out of the U.S. market by a boom in American production, forcing it to look for buyers in Europe and elsewhere.

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