NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. oil inventories fell across the board last week, with crude drawing down for a third consecutive week despite a jump in imports, the Energy Information Administration said on Thursday.
Crude inventories dropped by 4.8 million barrels in the week ended Aug. 30, nearly double analysts’ expectations for a decrease of 2.5 million barrels.
At 423.0 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories were at their lowest since October 2018, and at the five-year average for this time of year.
Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub for U.S. futures fell by 230,000 barrels, to their lowest since December, the EIA said.
Crude futures extended gains after the report. U.S. crude was up $1.25 a barrel at $57.51 by 11:31 a.m. EDT (1531 GMT). Global benchmark Brent crude was up $1.43 at $62.13 a barrel.
“We ripped higher - it’s definitely a bullish report all around,” said Bob Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho in New York. “A big import number would usually be bearish, but it didn’t seem to dent the bullish end to the equation.”
Net U.S. crude imports rose last week by 934,000 barrels per day. Imports were at 6.9 million bpd, up from 5.9 million bpd a week earlier. Exports rose 42,000 bpd to 3.1 million bpd, the data showed.
U.S. crude production dropped to 12.4 million bpd from its record at 12.5 million bpd hit the previous week, which contributed to the lower oil stockpiles.
Refining activity also remained high with crude runs edging down by 27,000 bpd to 17.38 million bpd and utilization rates down just 0.4 percentage point to 94.8% of total capacity, EIA data showed.
Gasoline stocks fell by 2.4 million barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 1.5 million-barrel drop.
Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, fell by 2.5 million barrels, versus expectations for a 484,000-barrel increase, the EIA data showed.
Editing by Marguerita Choy