(Reuters) - U.S. crude oil stockpiles rose for a 10th week in a row last week even as refineries boosted output and exports increased, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.
Crude inventories rose 3.6 million barrels in the week to Nov. 23, compared with analysts’ expectations for an increase of 769,000 barrels.
After falling to two-and-a-half-year lows in September, crude stocks have risen 14 percent with 10 straight weeks of increases. That is the longest run of builds since autumn 2015, according to EIA figures.
“This report does not paint a supportive picture for the market,” said Gene McGillian, vice president of market research for Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut. “I think now we’ve added more than 50 million barrels to U.S. crude stocks in the last three months.”
The U.S. stockpile now sits at 450 million barrels, most in a year, not including the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR). Stocks in the SPR fell 2 million barrels last week, though it is unclear whether those barrels moved to commercial storage or were processed by refiners.
Crude stockpiles rose despite production holding steady at 11.7 million barrels per day, though the EIA rounds off its weekly production figures to the nearest 100,000 bpd.
Crude exports increased 473,000 bpd to 2.4 million bpd, but that was more than offset by an increase in crude imports, which rose to 8.2 million bpd. As a result, net imports edged up 135,000 bpd.
Matt Smith, director of commodity research at ClipperData in Louisville, Kentucky, said the Thanksgiving holiday week can produce anomalies with weekly inventory figures.
Refinery crude runs rose by 698,000 bpd as utilization rates jumped 2.9 percentage points to 95.6 percent of total capacity.
Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub for U.S. futures rose by 1.2 million barrels, EIA said.
Prices fell after the data, but later recovered. U.S. crude futures were up 5 cents to $51.59 as of 11:34 a.m. EST (1634 GMT), while Brent lost 21 cents to $60.02 a barrel.
Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, rose 2.6 million barrels, versus expectations for a 857,000-barrel drop, the EIA data showed. U.S. ultra low sulfur diesel futures dropped on the news, falling more than 2 percent.
Gasoline stocks fell 764,000 barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 640,000-barrel gain.
Reporting By David Gaffen; additional reporting by Devika Krishna Kumar; Editing by Marguerita Choy