U.S. crude stocks rose less than expected last week, while gasoline stocks increased and distillate inventories fell, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said Feb. 6.
Crude inventories rose by 1.3 million barrels in the week ended Feb. 1, compared with analysts' expectations for an increase of 2.2 million barrels.
Crude stocks at the Cushing, Okla., delivery hub rose by 1.4 million barrels, the EIA said.
"As we move deeper into maintenance season, we have seen a third consecutive build to crude stocks," said Matthew Smith, director of commodity research at ClipperData. "The build is once again only modest, given stymied imports and strong exports."
U.S. oil prices pared losses and turned positive after the data release. U.S. crude was up 42 cents at $54.08 a barrel, while Brent crude was up 63 cents at $62.61 a barrel by 10:25 a.m. CST [15:25 GMT].
Refinery crude runs rose by 170,000 barrels per day (bbl/d), EIA data showed. Refinery utilization rates rose by 0.6 percentage points.
Gasoline stocks rose by 513,000 barrels, compared with analyst expectations in a Reuters poll for a 1.6 million-barrel gain.
Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, fell by 2.3 million barrels, vs. expectations for a 1.8 million-barrel drop, the EIA data showed.
"Distillate demand increased sharply last week due to the extreme cold weather, which contributed to the declining distillate stocks," said Commerzbank analyst Carsten Fritsch. "All in all this report is bullish for crude oil and refined product prices."
Net U.S. crude imports fell last week by 863,000 bbl/d.
Refiners insist they will continue to import from the U.S. assuming the price is competitive.
Construction of replacement pipeline will aid Canadian crude producers.
Improved economics allows producer to resume moving volumes.