U.S. oil stockpiles fall across the board, crude more than expected: EIA

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. oil stockpiles fell across the board last week, with crude inventories dropping more than expected and refined products posting surprise drawdowns due to a rise in refining and crude exports, and drop in crude production, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: An oil storage tank and crude oil pipeline equipment is seen during a tour by the Department of Energy at the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in Freeport, Texas, U.S. June 9, 2016. REUTERS/Richard Carson/File Photo

Crude inventories fell 3.1 million barrels in the week to June 14, nearly thrice analysts’ expectations for a decrease of 1.1 million barrels, and dropping from their highest levels since July 2017.

Gasoline stocks fell 1.7 million barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 935,000-barrel gain.

Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, fell by 551,000 barrels, versus expectations for a 712,000-barrel increase, the EIA data showed.

“The report was bullish given the across-the-board inventory declines and very strong gasoline demand,” said John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital Management in New York.

“Crude oil exports ticked up to a large 3.4 million barrel per day, while domestic production ticked down, reflective of the recent decline in the rig count,” he added.

Net U.S. crude imports fell last week by 444,000 barrels per day (bpd) as exports alone rose 300,000 bpd to 3.4 million bpd, close to its record of 3.6 million hit in February.

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Domestic crude production slipped 100,000 bpd to 12.2 million bpd, under its weekly record high of 12.4 million reached two weeks earlier.

Refinery crude runs rose 200,000 bpd and refinery utilization rates edged up 0.7 percentage point to 93.9 percent of total capacity, their highest since January, EIA data showed.

However, at 482.4 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are about 7% above the five-year average for this time of year.

Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub also rose 642,000 barrels to 53.6 million barrels, holding at their highest since December 2017, EIA said.

U.S. crude and global benchmark Brent crude turned positive immediately after the data was released and then eased slightly.

U.S. crude traded flat at $53.90 a barrel by 11:04 a.m. EDT (1504 GMT), while Brent traded down 4 cents a barrel at $62.10 a barrel.

“What we saw here in this report is more of a normal report for this type of year,” said Phil Flynn, an analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago. “Even with the bullish report, after the big run-up yesterday, the market is hesitant to drive a lot higher.”

Editing by Marguerita Choy