The growing oil supply glut in the US Midwest and the inability to transport and offload these supplies via pipeline to refineries along the Gulf Coast have created the widest price differential of the year between the world's largest oil futures contracts.
US oil prices are more than $20 a barrel lower than North Sea Brent crude futures, the steepest discount since late December.
US oil futures fell over $1 per barrel to an intraday low of $95.04 a barrel in Wednesday's session but recovered to trade above $96 in afternoon trading. While Brent crude futures pulled back only slightly from a four-and-a-half month high to trade just below $117 a barrel for most of the morning.
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The price differential or "spread" between Brent and US oil prices is expected to continue to grow as long as the US and Canadian oil production boom continues and pipelines are unable to get the growing amount of supply to US refineries.
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Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. energy analyst Fadel Gheit said, "The incredible growth in unconventional resources in North America — shale in the US and oil sands in Canada — and lack of pipeline capacity to take oil to where it can be refined" could result in the discount of US oil to Brent crude futures surpassing last year's high of $23 a barrel.