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U.S. crude stockpiles surge to 17-month high; steep gasoline drawdown: EIA

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. crude oil stocks rose more than expected last week to the highest in nearly 17 months as imports climbed, while gasoline inventories posted their steepest drawdown since September 2017, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

Crude inventories rose 7 million barrels to 456.6 million barrels in the last week, their highest since November 2017, compared with analysts’ expectations for an increase of 2.3 million barrels.

A majority of the increase came once again from the Gulf Coast region, where inventories rose 5.4 million barrels to 232.2 million barrels.

“The increase in crude supplies still has to do with some of the logistical issues we had in Texas, along with refinery problems,” said Phil Flynn, an analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago.

Restrictions at the busiest U.S. energy port for days after a massive petrochemical fire and spill near Houston led to a backlog of vessels in late March.

Net U.S. crude imports rose last week by 210,000 barrels per day (bpd) while exports alone fell by 374,000 bpd to 2.3 million bpd, the lowest level since late January.

Gasoline stocks fell 7.7 million barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 2-million-barrel drop.

“The report is supportive due to the large gasoline inventory draw,” said John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital LLC in New York.

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“Even though the crude oil inventory rise was nearly equal in size, the focus of the complex, as we head into peak summer driving season, is gasoline.”

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Oil prices were little changed after the data, with both benchmarks holding onto gains on the day. [O/R]

Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub fell by 1.1 million barrels, EIA said.

Refinery crude runs rose by 251,000 bpd, EIA data showed. Refinery utilization rates rose by 1.1 percentage points to 87.5 percent of total capacity.

Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, fell by 116,000 barrels, versus expectations for a 1.3-million-barrel drop, the EIA data showed.

Weekly oil production held steady at a record 12.2 million bpd.

Reporting by Devika Krishna Kumar in New York; additional reporting by Stephanie Kelly and Scott DiSavino; Editing by Marguerita Choy

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