NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. crude oil stockpiles rose last week, with Gulf Coast inventories hitting a record high due to high imports, while gasoline inventories posted their biggest drawdown since March before the coronavirus pandemic crushed demand, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.
Crude inventories rose by 5.7 million barrels in the week to July 3, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a decrease of 3.1 million barrels.
Inventories of crude on the Gulf Coast rose to 309 million barrels, a record high, the data showed.
Much of the build was from a large amount of imports to the United States, analysts said.
Net U.S. crude imports rose last week by 2.13 million barrels per day to 5.01 million bpd, their highest since August 2019. Gulf Coast commercial crude imports rose 1.8 million bpd to 3.2 million bpd, their highest since June 2018, the data showed.
“The main highlight for me is the drastic reduction in exports as well,” said Tony Headrick, energy markets analyst at CHS Hedging. “One could take a step back and look at it from a more global perspective - as imports come into the U.S., they’re not going elsewhere so the global supply is waning and these cargoes that were storing crude oil in the midst of the huge contango we saw, which is now narrowed, is starting to offload those shifts.”
Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub for U.S. futures rose by 2.2 million barrels, EIA said.
Crude stocks rose despite a 2 percentage-point jump in refinery utilization rates to 77.5% of total capacity. Refinery crude runs rose by 314,000 barrels per day, EIA data showed.
“Offsetting this bearish (crude) build was the largest draw to gasoline inventories since early March, as implied demand gradually recovers,” said Matt Smith, director of commodity research at ClipperData.
Gasoline stocks fell by 4.8 million barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations for a slight decrease.
Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, rose 3.1 million barrels to about 177.3 million barrels, their highest since early 1983, the data showed. Analysts had expected a 75,000 barrel drop.
Crude futures turned negative after the data, while U.S. gasoline futures extended gains.
U.S. crude fell 16 cents to $40.46 a barrel by 11:26 a.m. EDT, while Brent dropped 13 cents to $42.95 a barrel.
Reporting by Stephanie Kelly; additional reporting by Laura Sanicola; Editing by Marguerita Choy