EIA: U.S. CRUDE INVENTORIES FELL LAST WEEK, CAPACITY UTILIZATION SURGED2022.05.26 14:45
EIA: U.S. CRUDE INVENTORIES FELL LAST WEEK, CAPACITY UTILIZATION SURGED
WASHINGTON, May 25 (Reuters) - U.S. crude stockpiles fell modestly in the latest week as refiners stepped up production to lift overall capacity utilization to the highest level since the pandemic, data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed on Wednesday.
The report showed that U.S. crude inventories fell by 1 million barrels in the week to May 20 to 419.8 million barrels, compared with analysts’ previous forecast for a decrease of 737,000 barrels.
U.S. refinery capacity utilization rose 1.4 percentage points to 93.2 percent last week, the highest level since December 2019, with crude processing up 334,000 bpd.
The overall decline in refining capacity since pre-COVID-19 has been driven by the closure of multiple refineries has pushed profit margins to very high levels in the production of gasoline and diesel. On earnings calls in recent weeks, executives said they were struggling to keep up with demand buoyed by strong overseas purchases.
"As we officially enter the summer driving season this weekend, refining activity is finally responding to strong refining margins, lower product inventories and an impending rise in demand," said Matt Smith, chief oil analyst for the Americas at Kpler.
Exports of refined products rose to 6.2 million bpd in the latest week and have remained strong as buyers in Europe and Latin America scrambled for supplies after Russia was sanctioned over its conflict with Ukraine.
U.S. gasoline inventories fell by 482,000 barrels in the week to May 20 to 219.7 million barrels, the EIA said, missing expectations of 634,000 barrels.
Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, rose 1.7 million barrels this week to 106.90 million barrels, compared with expectations for a rise of 917,000 barrels, EIA data showed.
Net U.S. crude oil imports fell by 903,000 bpd last week as crude exports rose to their highest level since March 2020 at 4.3 million bpd, the EIA said