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U.S. Oil Inventories Unexpectedly Surge Higher

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05/15/2019 | 03:08 pm

By Dan Molinski

U.S. inventories of crude oil unexpectedly increased last week, but gasoline stockpiles declined, according to data Wednesday by the Energy Information Administration.

Benchmark U.S. oil prices, which were lower before the data was released, remained so afterward, but pared some of those losses. The Nymex crude contract for June delivery was recently down 0.2% at $61.69 a barrel.

Crude-oil stockpiles rose by 5.4 million barrels to 472 million barrels, and are now 2% above the five-year average for this time of year, the EIA said. Analysts surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had predicted crude stockpiles would fall by 1.4 million barrels from the prior week.

Oil stored at Cushing, Okla., the delivery point for U.S. stocks, rose by 1.8 million barrels to 47.8 million barrels, the EIA said in its weekly report.

Gasoline stockpiles surprisingly decreased by 1.1 million barrels to 225 million barrels, while analysts in the survey were expecting levels to fall 600,000 barrels from the previous week.

Distillate stocks, which include heating oil and diesel fuel edged higher by 84,000 barrels to 125.6 million barrels, and are now about 4% below the five-year average for this time of year, the EIA said. Earlier in the week, analysts had forecast supplies would decrease by 500,000 barrels from the previous week.

The refining capacity utilization rate increased by 1.6 percentage point from the previous week to 90.5%. Analysts were expecting the refinery rate to rise by just 0.5 percentage point.

U.S. oil inventories for week ended May 10:

Crude Gasoline Distillates Refinery Use

EIA data: +5.4 -1.1 +0.1 +1.6
Forecast: -1.4 -0.6 -0.5 +0.5

Note: Numbers in millions of barrels, with the exception of refinery use, which is in percentage points.

Write to Dan Molinski at dan.molinski@wsj.com

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