U.S. crude stocks fell the most on record last week as exports topped 5 million barrels per day and refineries processed more crude, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.
Most of the fall in crude stocks came from a record drop in stockpiles held in the refining hubs of the U.S. Gulf Coast. Stocks there fell by a record 15.57 million barrels to 243.4 million barrels as refiners in the region processed the most crude since August 2022, the EIA said.
U.S. crude inventories fell by 17 million barrels to 439.8 million barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll of a 1.4 million-barrel drop.
Despite the record stock draw, U.S. oil prices fell along with declines across financial markets, the day after rating agency Fitch downgraded the U.S. government’s top credit rating.
U.S. crude futures fell $1.94, or 2.4 per cent, to $80.77 a barrel while Brent crude futures fell $1.77, or 2.1 per cent, to $84.41 a barrel by 11:03 a.m. EDT.
News that the U.S. government has pulled an offer to buy 6 million barrels of oil for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve also pushed prices lower, traders and analysts said.
“All that pours cold water on an already overbought market,” one trader said.
Analysts said traders had already priced in a large stock draw following Tuesday’s American Petroleum Institute forecasts of a 15.4 million barrel draw.
“Yesterday’s API report very much alluded to a large crude draw, hence it’s been a case of buying the rumour and selling the fact for WTI, which is heading lower after running into technical resistance,” said Matt Smith, lead oil analyst for the Americas at Kpler.
Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub fell by 1.3 million barrels in the last week, EIA said.
U.S. crude exports stood at 5.28 million bpd last week, the third-highest weekly export total on record.
Refinery crude runs rose by 39,000 barrels per day in the last week, EIA said.
Refinery utilization rates fell by 0.7 percentage points in the week.
Gasoline stocks posted a modest surprise build while distillate stocks posted a modest surprise draw, the EIA said.
U.S. gasoline stocks rose by 1.5 million barrels in the week to 219.1 million barrels, the EIA said, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll of a 1.3 million-barrel drop.
Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, fell by 0.8 million barrels in the week to 117.2 million barrels, versus expectations for a 0.1 million-barrel rise, the EIA data showed.
Net U.S. crude imports fell last week by 391,000 barrels per day, EIA said.