U.S. crude oil stockpiles rose last week as the nation’s production hit another record, while gasoline inventories jumped sharply, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.
Crude inventories rose by 1.6 million barrels in the week ended Nov. 22, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a decrease of 418,000 barrels. Its fifth straight weekly build took stocks to 452.0 million barrels, their highest since July and about 3 per cent above the five-year average for this time of year, the EIA said.
Gasoline stocks soared by 5.1 million barrels, far more than forecasts for a 1.2 million-barrel gain.
The news of the big gasoline inventory spike pushed down U.S. gasoline prices, even as most other energy futures prices remained relatively flat.
U.S. crude oil futures were down 23 cents to $58.19 a barrel as of 10:42 a.m. ET. Brent dropped 27 cents to $63.99 a barrel, while RBOB gasoline futures were off by 0.0235 cents, or 1.5 per cent, to $1.6794 a gallon.
“The report was somewhat bearish with the across-the-board inventory increases, most notably the 5 million-barrel increase in gasoline inventories,” said John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital Management in New York.
U.S. crude production rose 100,000 barrels per day to 12.9 million bpd, another record due to the surging shale boom. However, analysts tend to rely more on monthly figures for U.S. production, which lag by a few months.
The United States has been steadily moving towards becoming a net exporter of oil due to rising exports of products and increasingly, crude. There have been several weeks where total oil exports has outpaced imports.
Net U.S. crude imports fell last week by 235,000 bpd.
Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub fell by 97,000 barrels, EIA said.
Refinery crude runs fell by 101,000 bpd as utilization rates fell by 0.2 percentage point to 89/3 per cent of total capacity, EIA data showed.
After nine straight weeks of builds, distillate stockpiles , which include diesel and heating oil, rose 725,000 barrels, close to expectations for a 750,000-barrel increase, the EIA data showed.
Propane stocks in the Midwest remain relatively tight, which has hampered suppliers to farming states who are using propane to dry crops. Stocks in the Midwest fell to 22.9 million barrels last week from 23.4 million barrels the week before.