By Anthony Harrup

U.S. crude oil inventories rose last week and gasoline stocks fell, while refineries stepped up their capacity use for a third consecutive week, according to data released Wednesday by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Commercial crude oil stocks excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve rose by 1.8 million barrels to 458.8 million barrels in the week ended May 17, and were about 3% below the five-year average for the time of year, the EIA said.

Analysts surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had predicted crude inventories would fall by 2 million barrels.

Oil in the SPR increased by 993,000 barrels to 368.8 million barrels. Oil stored at Cushing, Okla., the Nymex delivery hub, was up by 1.3 million barrels at 36.3 million barrels. Refinery capacity use rose by 1.3 percentage points in a third straight weekly increase to 91.7%. Refinery runs were forecast to have risen by a half percentage point.

The EIA estimated U.S. crude oil production at 13.1 million barrels a day, unchanged from the previous week. Crude imports were down by 81,000 barrels a day at 6.7 million barrels a day, and exports rose by 595,000 barrels a day to 4.7 million barrels a day.

Gasoline inventories fell by 945,000 barrels to 226.8 million barrels, and were 2% below the five-year average, the EIA said. Gasoline stocks were forecast to fall by 1 million barrels. Demand for the fuel increased by 439,000 barrels a day to 9.3 million barrels a day.

Distillate fuel stocks rose by 379,000 barrels to 116.7 million barrels, and were 7% below the five-year average. Expectations were for distillate inventories to be unchanged form the previous week.

Change in U.S. oil inventories for the week ended May 17: 
                   Crude       Gasoline      Distillates         Refinery Use 
EIA data:           1.8          -0.9            0.4                  1.3 
Forecast:          -2.0          -1.0          unchanged              0.5 

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

Write to Anthony Harrup at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

05-22-24 1135ET