HOUSTON: US crude oil inventories rose for the ninth week in a row, surging to their most since May 2021, as refiners ran less oil during a strong maintenance season, data from the US Energy Information Administration showed on Thursday.
Crude inventories rose by 7.6 million barrels to about 479 million barrels in the week to Feb. 17, compared with analysts' expectations in a Reuters poll for a 2.1 million-barrel rise.
Another steep crude oil supply adjustment in the EIA data added to the build, said Phil Flynn, a senior analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago. Last week, a large adjustment contributed to a
16.3 million-barrel rise in crude supplies.
Refinery crude runs dropped by 17,000 barrels per day, and refinery utilization rates fell by 0.6 percentage point to 85.9 percent of total capacity.
“Refinery maintenance is adding to these crude builds,” Flynn said, adding that crude runs should increase as oil refiners increase utilization.
Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub for futures rose by 700,000 barrels last week to 40.41 million barrels, their highest level since June 2021.
Oil prices pared gains slightly after the data, with US crude futures trading just over $1 per barrel at $74.99 at 11:39 a.m. EST (1639 GMT).
Gasoline stocks fell 1.9 million barrels to about 240.1 million barrels, the EIA said, compared with analysts’ expectations for a 110,000-barrel rise.
Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, rose 2.7 million barrels versus forecasts for a 1.1 million-barrel draw. At 121.9 million barrels, distillate supplies were at their highest since January 2022.
Net US crude imports fell by 1.4 million bpd, the EIA said, while production held steady at its highest level since April 2020 for a third week in a row at 12.3 million bpd.