U.S. Oil Inventories Fall as Refineries Restart After Hurricane

U.S. oil inventories fell last week and gasoline supplies climbed as refineries boosted activity following Hurricane Ida-caused outages, according to data released Wednesday by the Energy Information Administration.

Benchmark U.S. oil prices that were higher before the mixed-to-bullish report came out held on to most of those gains afterward. The Nymex front-month crude contract for November delivery was recently up 1.5% at $71.56 a barrel.

Crude-oil stockpiles dropped by 3.5 million barrels to 414 million barrels, and are now about 8% below the five-year average, the EIA said. Analysts surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had predicted crude stockpiles would fall by 2.4 million barrels from the prior week.

Oil stored at Cushing, the delivery point for U.S. stocks, fell by 1.5 million barrels from the previous week, to 33.8 million barrels, the EIA said in its weekly report.

U.S. crude-oil production rose by 500,000 barrels a day last week to 10.6 million barrels a day, according to EIA, as offshore output continued to recover from Ida.

Gasoline stockpiles climbed by 3.5 million barrels to 221.6 million barrels, compared with analysts' expectations for inventories to decrease by 1 million barrels from the previous week.

Distillate stocks, which include heating oil and diesel fuel, fell by 2.6 million barrels to 129.3 million barrels, and are now about 14% below the five-year average, the EIA said. Analysts were forecasting a 900,000-barrel decline from the previous week.

The refining capacity utilization rate surged 5.4 percentage points from the previous week to 87.5% as plants came back online after Ida-caused power outages. The sharp increase compared with analysts' forecasts for just a 1.8 percentage-point increase from the previous week.

U.S. oil inventories for the week ended Sept. 17:

            Crude  Gasoline  Distillates  Refinery Use
EIA data:   -3.5   +3.5      -2.6         +5.4
Forecast:   -2.4   -1.0      -0.9         +1.8


Note: Numbers in millions of barrels, with the exception of refinery use, which is in percentage points.

Write to Dan Molinski at dan.molinski@wsj.com


  (END) Dow Jones Newswires
  09-22-21 1106ET
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