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U.S. Crude Oil Inventory Update

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According to recent data released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), U.S. crude oil inventories experienced a significant drop last week. However, stocks of gasoline and distillate fuels witnessed substantial increases.

Crude Oil Inventories

Commercial crude-oil stocks, excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), decreased by 5.5 million barrels to reach 431.1 million barrels in the week ending December 29. This figure is about 2% below the five-year average for this time of year, as reported by the EIA. Analysts surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had anticipated a smaller decline of 2.7 million barrels.

In contrast, storage in the SPR rose by 1.1 million barrels to 354.4 million barrels.

Moreover, oil stored at Cushing, Oklahoma, which serves as the Nymex delivery hub, increased by 706,000 barrels to reach 34.7 million barrels. This rise was primarily due to refineries increasing their capacity use from 93.3% to 93.5% during the week. Expectations had indicated a slight decrease of a fifth of a percentage point in refinery runs.

Crude Oil Futures

Despite initial gains, crude futures experienced a decline on Thursday. The Nymex crude contract for February fell by 1.3% and reached $71.77 per barrel. Additionally, the international benchmark Brent for March delivery experienced a 1.3% decrease, reaching $77.22 per barrel.

Gasoline and Distillate Stocks

Gasoline stockpiles witnessed a significant surge, rising by 10.9 million barrels to reach 237 million barrels. This notable increase surpassed the expected 400,000-barrel build according to the Journal survey. The EIA mentioned that gasoline inventories were slightly above the five-year average for this time of year.

Distillate stocks, mainly diesel fuel, experienced a substantial increase as well, rising by 10.1 million barrels to reach 125.9 million barrels. However, they still remained 6% below the five-year average. Analysts had anticipated a distillate stock build of 400,000 barrels.

Summary of U.S. Oil Inventory Changes

Here is a summary of the changes in U.S. oil inventories for the week ending December 15, according to the EIA data:

  • Crude: -5.5 million barrels
  • Gasoline: +10.9 million barrels
  • Distillates: +10.1 million barrels
  • Refinery Use: +0.2 percentage points

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