Thursday, May 18, 2023

US crude stockpiles soar on SPR release; gasoline draws down on strong demand -EIA 

HOUSTON, May 17 (Reuters) - U.S. commercial crude oil stockpiles jumped unexpectedly last week due to another release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, while gasoline inventories dropped as demand surged to its highest since 2021, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

Crude inventories rose by 5 million barrels in the week to May 12 to 467.6 million barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 900,000-barrel drop.

SPR stocks drew for a seventh week in a row, falling by 2.4 million last week to 359.59 million barrels, their lowest since September 1983, due to last year’s congressionally mandated release.

Inventories at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub for U.S. crude futures rose by 1.5 million barrels last week, the EIA said.

Oil prices pared gains after the data. Brent and U.S. crude futures were trading just over 0.2% higher at $75.11 per barrel and $71.05 per barrel, respectively, by 10:39 a.m. ET (1439 GMT).

U.S. oil production also dropped by 100,000 to 12.2 million barrels per day last week.

Refinery crude runs rose by 245,000 barrels per day and refinery utilization rates rose by 1 percentage point in the week to 92% of total capacity.

The increase in refinery runs suggest crude supplies are going to tighten, said Phil Flynn, an analyst at Price Futures Group.

“Overall, big picture demand is still strong. Even with the surprise build, supplies are still tight,” Flynn added.

Gasoline stocks fell by 1.4 million barrels in the week to 218.3 million barrels, the EIA said, compared with analysts’ forecasts for a 1.1 million-barrel drop.

The four-week average of gasoline product supplied - a proxy for demand - rose 1.1% to 9.1 million bpd, its highest level since December 2021.

Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, rose by 0.1 million barrels in the week to 106.2 million barrels, versus expectations for a 100,000 barrel rise, the EIA data showed.

U.S. crude oil imports rose 24% to 6.9 million barrels, while exports also climbed nearly 50% to 4.3 millions barrels.

Net U.S. crude imports fell last week by 127,000 bpd, the EIA said. (Reporting by Arathy Somasekhar in Houston Editing by Marguerita Choy and David Gregorio)

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