By Barani Krishnan
Investing.com — U.S. crude stockpiles fell last week for the first time since December after 10 straight weeks of builds that added some 60 million barrels to inventories, government data showed on Wednesday.
U.S. crude inventories fell by 1.694M barrels during the week ended March 3, the Energy Information Administration, or EIA, said in its Weekly Petroleum Status Report.
It was the first crude stockpile draw since the week ended Dec. 30 and came after 10 weeks of builds that coincided with seasonal maintenance and other disruptions at U.S. refineries leading to less processing of oil.
Industry analysts tracked by Investing.com had forecast a build of 0.395M barrels on average for the week ended March 3.
Refineries operated at 86% of their operable capacity last week, the EIA said. Typically, inventory runs at this time of the year are about 90% or more.
U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged 15.0M barrels per day last week, some 12,000 less than the previous week’s average.
Gasoline production decreased last week, averaging 9.6M barrels per day, and distillate fuel production fell as well, averaging 4.5M barrels daily.
On the gasoline inventory front, the EIA reported a draw of 1.134M barrels last week, versus the forecast decline of 1.863M and against the previous week’s deficit of 0.847M. Automotive fuel gasoline is the No. 1 U.S. fuel product.
While gasoline inventories fell, distillate stockpiles rose for a third week in a row. Until last month, distillates, which are refined into heating oil, diesel for trucks, buses, trains, and ships, and fuel for jets, were the strongest component of the U.S. petroleum complex in terms of demand.
Distillate stockpiles rose by 0.138M versus the expected slide of 1.038M. In the previous week, distillates rose by 0.179M.