US crude stockpiles fall sharply on strong export, refinery demand

US crude oil stockpiles fell more than expected last week due to strong export and refining demand, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

Gasoline and distillate inventories also drew down sharply, hinting at rising demand just days after OPEC+ announced further oil output cuts of around 1.16 million barrels per day.

Crude inventories fell by 3.7 million barrels in the week to March 31 to 470 million barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 2.3 million-barrel drop.

Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub fell by 970,000 barrels in the week, the EIA said.

“Across the board we’ve had draws in crude and products and I think that’s supportive for the market in conjunction with the recently announced OPEC+ production cuts,” said Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates in Houston.

Oil prices pared some losses after the report, but gave up those gains later with Brent crude futures trading down 0.9 percent at $84.20 a barrel, and West Texas Intermediate crude trading 1 percent lower at $79.90.

US crude exports climbed to 5.2 million bpd, their second highest level on record. On a net basis, crude imports rose by 1.16 million bpd, the EIA said.

Refinery crude runs fell by 198,000 bpd last week, edging down slightly from the highest level this year of 15.8 million bpd the week before, the EIA said.

Refinery utilization rates was also at its second highest level this year at 89.6 percent of total capacity, slipping only 0.7 percentage point in the week as companies continued to wrap up maintenance ahead of the summer driving season.

Gasoline stocks fell by 4.1 million barrels in the week to 222.6 million barrels, the EIA said, more than double forecasts for a 1.7 million-barrel drop.

Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, fell by 3.6 million barrels to 113.1 million barrels, far exceeding expectations for a 400,000-barrel drop, the EIA data showed.



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