August 19, 2023 [Reuters]- U.S. crude oil inventories fell last week as oil refiners increased run rates and exports surged, while crude production reached its highest since the coronavirus pandemic decimated fuel consumption, Energy Information Administration data showed on Wednesday.
Crude inventories (USOILC=ECI) fell by 5.96 million barrels in the week to Aug. 11 to 439.7 million barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 2.3 million-barrel drop.
Refinery crude runs (USOICR=ECI) rose by 167,000 barrels per day last week to 16.75 million bpd, their highest since January 2020, EIA data showed. Refinery utilization rates (USOIRU=ECI) rose by 0.9 percentage point ti 94.7% of total capacity.
“It shows that refiners are really struggling to keep up with demand, not just domestically but globally,” said Phil Flynn, an analyst at Price Futures Group. “That led to a decline in crude inventories.”
A surge in the amount of oil the U.S. exported last week also drained stockpiles. Crude exports jumped by 2.2 million bpd, the largest weekly rise since August 2022, leading to a drop of 1.76 million bpd in net imports (USOICI=ECI).
Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub (USOICC=ECI) fell by 837,000 barrels in the week, the EIA said.
Inventories are falling despite an increase in crude production, which rose to 12.7 million bpd, its highest since March 2020, when restrictions around the coronavirus pandemic caused a drop-off in fuel demand.
The production level is impressive, considering a recent drop in the rig count, which tends to be an indication of future production, said John Kilduff, partner at Again Capital LLC in New York.
After falling for eight weeks in a row, the number of oil rigs held steady at 525 in the week to Aug. 11, energy services firm Baker Hughes said on Friday.
Crude futures rose after the data. International benchmark Brent last traded around $84.90 a barrel, and U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures last traded about $81.00 a barrel.
Gasoline stocks (USOILG=ECI) fell by 261,000 barrels in the week to 216.2 million barrels, the EIA said, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 1.3 million-barrel drop.
Distillate stockpiles (USOILD=ECI), which include diesel and heating oil, rose by 296,000 barrels in the week to 115.7 million barrels, versus expectations for a 500,000-barrel drop, the EIA data showed.
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