Adding to stockpiles, United States crude production has risen to more than 10 million barrels per day (bpd), overtaking top exporter Saudi Arabia.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration said in a monthly report it expected fourth-quarter U.S. crude output to reach an average of 11.17 million bpd, up from its forecast a month ago of 11.04 million bpd.
Weakened by the resignation news, oil prices slid further after the American Petroleum Institute estimated inventories had risen by 5.66 million barrels last week in yet another weekly reminder about the excessive volatility reigning on oil markets.
Asian imports of 726,600 bpd of USA crude in November and January's 676,190 bpd were the strongest two months on record, showing that the region's traders were quick to take advantage of the weakening of WTI relative to Brent.
USA oil prices remained under pressure from expectations that weekly crude inventory data would show a second straight rise.
April WTI crude settled 2.3% lower at $61.15/bbl while Brent crude fell 2.2% to $64.34/bbl, and energy stocks were one of Wall Street's weakest performers although losses have been whittled away near the day's close.
With the inventories reports out of the way, traders are likely to go back to focusing on the outcome of the tariff debate and whether Trump will implement his plan to sanction imports of steel and aluminum, and if other countries will take retaliatory action.
Should this forecast come to pass, OPEC would be hard pressed to continue pumping less oil than before and even that won't guarantee oil prices remaining at comfortable levels for the cartel's members. Declines in the equity market, a rising dollar and concern that Trump's tariff threats will spark a trade war acted as a downward force on crude oil. The increase, however, almost matched market expectations and came in at less than half the increase reported by trade group the American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday. Crude stocks at Cushing fell by 0.6 million barrels, while stocks of gasoline (0.79m) and distillates (0.56m) also decreased. Both benchmarks were trading down from last Tuesday afternoon.
Economic growth in Asia will propel demand for oil to 104.7 mb/d by 2023, an increase of 6.9 mb/d. USA output is expected to surpass that of Russian Federation, now the world's top producer at about 11 million barrels a day. And the U.S.is set to become part of the top five global crude exporters, according to consultant Wood Mackenzie Ltd.