U.S. crude oil stockpiles rose last week even as oil refineries ramped up utilization following a strong maintenance season, while gasoline and distillate inventories fell, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.
Crude inventories rose by 1.6 million barrels in the week to March 10 to 480.1 million barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 1.2 million-barrel rise.
Fuelling the rise was an increase in Gulf Coast crude stockpiles, which climbed to their highest since April 2021, the data showed.
Meanwhile, East Coast crude inventories fell to their lowest on record.
The EIA posted another high crude oil supply adjustment for the data of 2.23 million barrels per day. The adjustment figure serves as a balancing item when the EIA’s supply and demand data do not align.
The EIA in early March said that crude oil blending and under-reported oil output were key reasons for recently high adjustment figures in the weekly oil inventory data.
“Another large positive adjustment for crude signals both crude exports and refining activity were overstated,” said Matt Smith, lead oil analyst for the Americas at Kpler. “Lower observed crude export loadings and product inventory draws affirm these overestimations.”
Gasoline stocks fell by 2.1 million barrels in the week to 236 million barrels, the EIA said, compared with analysts’ forecasts for a 1.8 million-barrel drop.
Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, fell by 2.5 million barrels in the week to 119.7 million barrels, versus expectations for a 1.2 million-barrel drop, the EIA data showed. Despite the draw, Midwest distillate inventories rose to their highest since March 2022.
Refinery crude runs rose by 431,000 bpd and refinery utilization rates rose by 2.2 percentage points in the week.
“Refiner utilization rate is up by a big amount,” said Bob Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho. “That’s telling that refiner maintenance season is over.”
Net U.S. crude imports fell by 1.72 million bpd, the EIA said.
Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub for U.S. futures fell by 1.9 million barrels last week, the EIA said.
Oil prices briefly pared losses after the data, but have since continued to fall. Brent and U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures last traded over $3.50 a barrel lower at $73.63 and $67.57, respectively.