By Dan Molinski
U.S. inventories of crude oil fell much more than expected last week, but stockpiles of gasoline surprisingly surged, according to data released Wednesday by the Energy Information Administration.
Crude Oil Inventories
Commercial crude-oil stockpiles dropped by 6.1 million barrels last week to 433.5 million barrels, which is 2% below the five-year average, the EIA said. This decline exceeded analysts' expectations, as they had predicted a decrease of 2.4 million barrels from the prior week.
Oil stored at Cushing, Okla., the delivery point for U.S. stocks, fell by 3.1 million barrels from the previous week to 30.7 million barrels.
U.S. crude-oil production rose by 100,000 barrels a day from the previous week to 12.8 million barrels a day, reaching its highest level in weekly data since March 27, 2020.
Gasoline stockpiles surprisingly increased by 1.5 million barrels to 217.6 million barrels, compared with analysts' expectations of a 500,000-barrel decline.
Distillate stocks, mostly consisting of diesel fuel, rose by 945,000 barrels to 116.7 million barrels, and remain about 16% below the five-year average, according to the EIA. Analysts had forecasted a smaller increase of just 200,000 barrels for distillates inventories.
Refinery Capacity Utilization Rate
The refining capacity utilization rate fell by 0.2 percentage points from the previous week to 94.5%, contrary to expectations for a 0.4-percentage-point increase.
Overall, U.S. crude oil inventories experienced a larger-than-expected decline, reaching levels below the five-year average. However, gasoline stocks surprisingly surged, while distillate stocks rose moderately. The increase in crude-oil production contributed to the decline in inventories.