June 20, 2018 / 3:35 PM / 5 months ago

U.S. crude stockpiles slump, fuel builds amid record high refinery runs - EIA

An oil pump is seen operating in the Permian Basin near Midland, Texas, U.S., May 3, 2017. REUTERS/Ernest Scheyder/Files

(Reuters) - U.S. crude oil stockpiles dropped sharply last week while gasoline and distillate inventories grew as refineries’ crude runs rose to their highest on record seasonally, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

Crude inventories fell by 5.9 million barrels in the week to June 15, the largest one-week decline since January, compared with analysts’ expectations for a decrease of 1.9 million barrels.

Stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub for U.S. crude futures fell by 1.3 million barrels, EIA said.

Refinery crude runs rose 196,000 barrels per day to 17.7 million bpd last week, the most on a seasonal basis on record, EIA data showed.

Refinery utilization rates rose by 1 percentage point to 96.7 percent of total capacity, the highest rate since December, as Gulf refining utilization rates rose.

“What you’ve continued to see here is maintenance season continues to wind down for the refinery sector, so that obviously bodes well for continued crude oil demand,” said Nick Holmes, an investment analyst on the energy portfolio team at Tortoise Capital in Leawood, Kansas.

Crude prices rose on the news, with U.S. futures gaining 77 cents to $65.84 a barrel and Brent crude, the London benchmark, rising 7 cents to $75.15 a barrel.

Gasoline stocks rose 3.3 million barrels, compared with analyst expectations in a Reuters poll for a 188,000-barrel gain.

Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, rose 2.7 million barrels, versus expectations for a 164,000-barrel drop, the EIA data showed.

Reporting By David Gaffen; additional reporting by Stephanie Kelly; Editing by Marguerita Choy

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