U.S. Crude Oil Stocks Decline More Than Expected


According to data released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. crude oil stocks fell more than anticipated last week. Gasoline inventories also declined, while refineries increased their capacity use.

Crude Oil Stocks

The report revealed that commercial crude oil stocks, excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, decreased to 436.6 million barrels in the week ended Dec. 22. This marked a decline from the previous week’s 443.7 million barrels and was approximately 1% below the five-year average for this time of year. Analysts surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had predicted a decrease of 2.4 million barrels.

Additionally, oil stored at Cushing, Okla., the Nymex delivery hub, rose by 1.5 million barrels to 34 million barrels as refineries increased their capacity use to 93.3%. This was up from 92.4% the previous week.

Crude Futures

Due to easing concerns about shipping disruptions in the Red Sea, crude futures were lower on Thursday. The Nymex crude contract for February was down 1.3% at $73.12 a barrel, while the international benchmark Brent was down 1.3% at $78.59 a barrel.

Gasoline and Distillate Stocks

Gasoline stockpiles also saw a decline, dropping to 226.1 million barrels from 226.7 million barrels in the previous week. Gasoline inventories are currently about 2% below their five-year average.

On the other hand, distillate stocks, primarily diesel fuel, rose slightly to 115.8 million barrels from just over 115 million barrels.

Summary of Inventory Changes

  • Crude: -7.1 million barrels (EIA data) vs. forecast of -2.4 million barrels.
  • Gasoline: -0.7 million barrels (EIA data) vs. forecast of +0.1 million barrels.
  • Distillates: +0.7 million barrels (EIA data) in line with the expected stock build of 0.7 million barrels.
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