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U.S. Crude Stockpiles Slump, Gasoline Builds Amid Winter Storms – EIA

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U.S. crude oil stockpiles slumped while gasoline inventories jumped last week after winter weather hit crude production and imports, refining, and demand for fuel, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

Crude inventories fell by 9.2 million barrels to 420.7 million barrels in the week ending Jan. 19, the EIA said, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 2.1 million-barrel draw.

The draw was driven by a stark drop in U.S. crude imports of 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) as the weather shut in refineries and kept motorists off the road.

The winter storms also caused 1 million-bpd drop in crude production to 12.3 million bpd, the biggest drop since September 2021, the EIA estimated. January production data will be reported in its monthly report at the end of March.

Refinery crude runs fell by 1.4 million bpd to 15.3 million bpd and refinery utilization rates slumped by 7.1 percentage points to 85.5% of total capacity, their biggest declines since December 2022 during Winter Storm Elliot.

“It’s a winter weather report all around… nobody was driving,” said Bob Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho in New York.

Gasoline stocks rose by 4.9 million barrels in the week to 253 million barrels, their highest since February 2021, the EIA said, compared with forecasts of a 2.3 million-barrel build.​

Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, fell by 1.4 million barrels in the week to 133.3 million barrels, versus expectations for a 300,000-barrel rise, the EIA data showed.

The four-week average for petroleum product supplied, a proxy for demand, fell last week to 19.5 million bpd, its lowest in a year, with gasoline supplied falling 390,000 bpd to 7.9 million bpd distillate to its lowest in a year.

Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub for U.S crude futures fell by 2 million barrels in the week, the EIA said.

The data lifted U.S. crude futures 56 cents, or 0.8%, to $74.93 a barrel by 10:55 a.m. ET (1555 GMT).

However, reaction was more muted due to the one-off nature of the report, according to UBS analyst Giovanni Staunovo.

“Recovery is likely to be slow, with distortions also expected to influence the data next week,” Staunovo said.

(Reporting by Laura Sanicola, Additional reporting by Liz Hampton in Denver Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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