NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. crude oil stockpiles fell more than expected last week, while gasoline and distillate inventories rose sharply, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday, due to the impact of the first major hurricane to hit the U.S. Gulf of Mexico this season.
Crude and gasoline futures turned lower after the report. U.S. crude fell 39 cents per barrel to trade at $57.24 a barrel by 11:09 a.m. EDT [1509 GMT], while gasoline futures traded down 0.45 cent to $1.8867 a gallon.
“A hurricane-impacted report shows a drop in production and imports offsetting lower refining activity to yield a draw to crude stocks,” said Matt Smith, director of Commodity Research at ClipperData.
Barry, which came ashore on Saturday in central Louisiana as a Category 1 hurricane, prompted oil companies to shut nearly 74% of production at U.S. Gulf of Mexico platforms ahead of the storm, the U.S. offshore drilling regulator said.U.S. offshore oil production remained cut by 58% on Tuesday.
U.S. crude production dropped 300,000 barrels per day in the week to July 12 to 12 million bpd, according to the EIA, a decline that analysts attributed to the storm.
Crude inventories fell by 3.1 million barrels last week, more than analysts’ expectations for a decrease of 2.7 million barrels.
Stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub for U.S crude futures fell by 1.35 million barrels, EIA said.
Net U.S. crude imports were marginally higher, rising 44,000 bpd, while exports alone fell about half a million bpd.
Most refineries in southeastern Louisiana kept running through the storm except for Phillips 66’s 253,600-bpd Alliance, Louisiana, refinery, which the company began restarting on Monday.
Total U.S. refinery crude runs fell 171,000 bpd, EIA data showed. Refinery utilization rates fell by 0.3 percentage point to 94.4% of total capacity.
Gasoline stocks rose 3.6 million barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 925,000-barrel drop.
Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, rose 5.7 million barrels, versus expectations for a 613,000-barrel increase, the EIA data showed.
Reporting By Jessica Resnick-Ault; Editing by Marguerita Choy