U.S. crude oil inventories last week fell to their lowest in nearly three years while gasoline stockpiles rose, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Sept. 22, as the industry continued to recover after Hurricane Ida.
Crude inventories fell by 3.5 million barrels in the week to Sept. 17 to 414 million barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 2.4 million-barrel drop. Inventories now sit at their lowest levels since October 2018, and that tightness, along with strong demand, has helped drive oil prices higher.
Weekly figures on refining activity and oil production showed a return to pre-hurricane activity. Crude production jumped 500,000 bbl/d in the week to 10.6 million bbl/d, as Gulf offshore facilities resumed operations.
Refinery crude runs rose by 960,000 bbl/d in the last week, with utilization rates up 5.4 percentage points to 87.5% of capacity as refiners restarted key units.
Overall product supplied jumped as a result to 21.1 million bbl/d, and for the past four weeks, product supplied—a proxy for demand—averaged nearly 21 million bbl/d, roughly in line with pre-pandemic levels.
Overall oil prices were stronger on the day, with U.S. crude up 1.4% to $71.47/bbl, while Brent gained 1.4% to $75.43/bbl as of 10:47 a.m. ET (1447 GMT).
Undercutting the optimism, U.S. gasoline stocks rose by 3.5 million barrels to 221.6 million barrels, compared with expectations for a 1.1 million-barrel drop.
Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, fell by 2.6 million barrels versus expectations for a 1.2 million-barrel drop.
Net U.S. crude imports rose last week by 519,000 bbl/d, the EIA said.
Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub fell by 1.5 million barrels in the last week, the EIA said.
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