NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. crude oil stockpiles rose unexpectedly last week as refineries cut production and imports grew, but inventories at the key Cushing hub declined for an 11th week in a row, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.
After four weeks of drawdowns, crude inventories rose 1.1 million barrels in the week to Sept. 13. Analysts in Reuters poll had forecast for a decrease of 2.5 million barrels.
Although the report was bearish, analysts said it created fewer market ripples than normal in a week filled with headline risk related to production disruptions in Saudi Arabia after the past weekend’s attack.
“Besides being somewhat bearish, the report is anticlimactic, after the events of the past several days,” said John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital Management in New York. “The rise in crude oil inventories halts several weeks of spectacular drawdowns, although there was a further decline at the key Cushing delivery hub,” he said.
At 417.1 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories were about 2% below the five-year average for this time of year, the EIA said.
Stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub for U.S. crude futures fell by 647,000 barrels in its 11th week of drawdowns, the longest streak of declines since August 2018, the EIA said.
Crude prices pared losses after the data showed the surprise U.S. inventory build, but pulled back as Saudi Arabia pledged to restore lost output.
U.S. crude was down 95 cents a barrel, or 1.6%, at $58.39 by 12:18 p.m.
Net U.S. crude imports rose last week by 445,000 barrels per day.
Refinery crude runs fell by 788,000 bpd and refinery utilization rates slumped 3.9 percentage points to 91.2% of total capacity, EIA data showed.
Gasoline stocks rose by 781,000 barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations for a 538,000-barrel drop.
Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, rose by 437,000 barrels, versus expectations for a 535,000-barrel increase, the EIA data showed.
U.S. crude production was unchanged for a third week in a row at 12.4 million bpd, the EIA said.
Reporting by Jessica Resnick-Ault; Editing by Marguerita Choy