U.S. crude oil stockpiles fell for the fourth consecutive week, with inventories down over 6% in the last month, as oil refiners run at high rates to keep up with global energy demand,Energy Information Administration data showed onThursday.
Crude inventories fell by 6.3 million barrels, triple the 2.1 million-barrel drop that analysts expected. Crude stocks are at 416.6 million barrels, down 6.5% since the start of August, the data showed.
Refinery crude runs rose by 20,000 barrels per day (bpd).
Refinery utilization rates dropped by 0.2%.
Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub dropped 1.8 million barrels.
U.S. gasoline stocks fell 2.7 million barrels in the week, the EIA said, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 950,000-barrel drop.
Investors have already been on edge about global oil supply this week after Saudi Arabia and Russia, the world’s top two oil exporters, extended voluntary supply cuts to the year-end.
Oil futures turned positive briefly after the EIA data, but have since edged lower. Brent crude futures LCOc1 last traded around $90.31 a barrel, and U.S. West Texas Intermediate last traded about $87.27 a barrel.
“It was a very bullish report; one of the things people were taking for granted was gasoline supply and they are not taking it for granted anymore,” Price Futures Group analyst Phil Flynn said. “We’ve seen a substantial drop in gasoline inventories, along with a draw in crude, which means refiners really need to pick it up in this off season.”
Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, rose by 700,000 barrels in the week, versus expectations for a 240,000-barrel rise, the EIA data showed.
Net U.S. crude imports dropped by 250,000 bpd.