(Adds additional details, comments on sharp draw in crude
By David Gaffen
Sept 7 U.S. crude stocks surprisingly plunged
more than 12 million barrels last week, data from industry group
the American Petroleum Institute showed on Wednesday, boosting
the price of oil.
Crude inventories fell 12.1 million barrels in the week to
Sept. 2 to 514 million barrels, compared with expectations for
an increase of 225,000 barrels.
If Thursday's report from the U.S. Energy Information
Administration shows a similar decline, it would be the largest
one-week fall in stocks excluding the U.S. strategic petroleum
reserve since April, 1985, according to government data.
The surprise drawdown jolted late-day trading in crude, as
U.S. futures jumped sharply to $46.17 a barrel, doubling
the day's gains to nearly 3 percent in after-market trade.
"If it's accurate, I think it will start to ease fears of
oversupply in the market. There's apprehension of crude
restocking as we exit the gasoline season and we exit strong
demand," said Gene McGillian, senior analyst at Tradition Energy
in Stamford, Connecticut.
"We'll just have to wait and see if this is just a one-off
or if it's the start of a trend to pare down those stockpiles."
Crude stocks have been at record highs in the last two
years, thanks in part to the U.S. shale oil boom that boosted
U.S. production. That glut has kept crude prices under pressure.
Some analysts said Tropical Storm Hermine, which threatened
the Gulf Coast refining region late last week before moving to
the U.S. East Coast, may have skewed the figures.
"I think it was rough weather in the waters that prevented a
lot of vessels from unloading. Certainly, some production was
shut in because of the hurricane," said Dominick Chirichella,
senior partner at Energy Management Institute in New York.
U.S. crude imports fell last week by 1.7 million barrels per
day to 7.3 million bpd.
Refinery crude runs rose by 227,000 bpd, API data showed.
Gasoline stocks fell 2.3 million barrels, compared with
analysts' expectations in a Reuters poll for a 171,000-barrel
Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil,
rose 944,000 barrels, compared with expectations for a
684,000-barrel gain, the API data showed.
(Reporting By David Gaffen and Catherine Ngai; Editing by