EIA: US crude inventories fall for eighth week to Jan 2016 low

(Reuters) — US crude oil stocks last week fell for an eighth consecutive week to their lowest since January 2016, while gasoline stocks declined more than anticipated, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

Crude inventories fell 3.3 MMbbl in the week ending Aug. 18, largely in line with expectations for a decrease of 3.5 MMbbl. Overall US crude stocks fell to 463.2 MMbbl, a 14-percent drop from the peak of 535.5 MMbbl at the end of March.

Oil prices have recovered from June lows as world supplies have started to tighten, in part due to efforts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, along with non-OPEC members, to pull back on production. The group agreed to cut supply by a combined 1.8 MMbpd in a deal that extends to March of next year.

Oil prices have not been able to sustain much of a rally, though, and gains were meager after the government's report.

US crude futures, which were rallying in the hours leading to the data, were up 21 cents to $48.06 a barrel as of 10:49 a.m. EDT (1449 GMT), while Brent futures gained 35 cents to $52.22 a barrel.

"Crude draws were inline with expectations and the market initial reaction is mixed," said David Thompson, executive vice president at Powerhouse, an energy-specialized commodities broker in Washington.

"Increased crude oil imports and a drop in the refinery utilization rate open up the possibility of weakness in WTI."

US crude imports rose last week by 605,000 bpd.

Refinery crude runs fell by 104,000 bpd, as utilization rates fell by 0.7 percentage point to 95.4% of total refining capacity, EIA data showed, as the summer driving season nears its end.

Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub for US crude futures fell by 503,000 barrels, EIA said.

US crude production, which has been growing steadily, rose 26,000 bpd to 9.53 MMbpd. US exports, which fluctuate on a weekly basis, rose to 936,000 bpd from 877,00 bpd the previous week.

Gasoline stocks fell by 1.2 MMbbl, compared with expectations in a Reuters poll for a 643,000-bbl drop.

Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, rose by 28,000 bbl, versus expectations for a 93,000-bbl increase, the EIA data showed.

Reporting by David Gaffen; additional reporting by Devika Krishna Kumar; Editing by Marguerita Choy

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