US commercial crude oil inventories, excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, increased 4.8 million bbl for the week ended Dec. 11 from the previous week, the Energy Information Administration estimated.
At 490.7 million bbl, crude oil inventories remain near levels not seen for this time of year in at least the last 80 years, the Petroleum Status Report said. The boost in oil supplies was more than many analysts had expected.
Analysts polled by the Wall Street Journal in advance of the report’s release had anticipated crude oil inventories would fall 1.4 million bbl. Separately, the American Petroleum Institute said its own estimate for the week ended Dec. 11 showed an increase of 2.3 million bbl.
Light, sweet crude prices on the New York market traded lower Dec. 16 immediately after EIA’s report was released. Traders also awaited news from the Federal Reserve, which was expected to announce during the afternoon of Dec. 16 that it will raise interest rates for the first time in years.
Gasoline inventories climb
EIA said total motor gasoline inventories increased 1.7 million bbl last week, and the agency described that level as being in the upper half of the upper half of the average range. Both finished gasoline inventories and blending components inventories increased.
Distillate fuel inventories increased 2.6 million bbl last week, which EIA said was in the upper half of the average range for this time of year. Propane-propylene inventories fell 1.7 million bbl last week but remained well above the upper limit of the average range.
US refinery inputs averaged over 16.6 million b/d for the week ended Dec. 11, which was 41,000 b/d less than the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 91.9% of capacity.
Gasoline production increased, averaging 10 million b/d for the week ended Dec. 11 while distillate fuel production decreased, averaging 5.1 million b/d.
US crude oil imports averaged more than 8.3 million b/d, up 291,000 b/d from the previous week.
Over the last 4 weeks, crude oil imports averaged 7.9 million b/d, which was 6.3% above the same 4-week period last year.
Total motor gasoline imports, including finished gasoline and gasoline blending components, averaged 660,000 b/d for the week ended Dec. 11 while distillate fuel imports averaged 84,000 b/d, EIA said.