U.S. crude inventories slip, gasoline stocks hit record high

U.S. crude oil and distillate inventories fell last week while gasoline stockpiles grew for an 11th consecutive week to an all-time high, the Energy Information Administration said.

Crude inventories fell 405,000 barrels in the week to Jan. 17, government data showed, less than analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 1 million-barrel drop.

Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub for the benchmark U.S. crude futures , fell 961,000 barrels to 34.9 million barrels, their lowest since November 2018, the EIA said.

U.S. crude futures briefly pared losses after the data was released, but then traded down $1.80, or 3.2%, to $54.95 a barrel by 1 p.m. EST (1800 GMT).

“Crude inventories have ticked slightly lower in the last week, as a minor drop in imports has been offset by lower refining activity,” Matthew Smith, director of commodity research at ClipperData.

Net U.S. crude imports slipped last week by 53,000 barrels per day, while refinery crude runs fell by 116,000 bpd, the EIA said.

Refinery utilization rates fell for a third straight week, decreasing by 1.7 percentage points to 90.5% of total capacity.

U.S. gasoline stocks rose by 1.7 million barrels in the week to a record 260 million barrels, the EIA said, compared with analyst expectations for a 3.1 million-barrel rise.

Total motor gasoline inventories were about 4% above the five-year average for this time of year, the EIA said. ​

Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, fell by 1.2 million barrels in the week to 146 million barrels, versus expectations for a 1 million-barrel rise, the data showed.

U.S. Gulf Coast distillate inventories rose 71,000 barrels to 46.8 million barrels, their highest since September 2017.

Over the past four weeks, gasoline supplied was down by 1.4% from the same period last year, while distillate demand dropped 8.3% year-on-year.

Reporting By New York Energy Desk; Editing by Marguerita Choy

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