By Anthony Harrup

U.S. crude oil inventories fell by more than expected last week, and gasoline stocks increased as refineries stepped up their capacity use, according to data released Thursday by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Commercial crude oil stocks excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve fell by 4.2 million barrels to 454.7 million barrels in the week ended May 24 and were about 4% below the five-year average for the time of year, the EIA said.

Analysts surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had predicted crude stockpiles would fall by 1.4 million barrels.

Oil in the SPR increased by 485,000 barrels to 369.3 million barrels.

Oil stored at Cushing, Okla., the Nymex delivery hub, was down by 1.8 million barrels at 34.6 million barrels. Refinery capacity use rose by 2.6 percentage points to 94.3%. Refinery runs were forecast to rise by a half percentage point in the Journal survey.

The EIA kept its estimate of U.S. crude oil production steady at 13.1 million barrels a day. Crude imports rose by 106,000 barrels a day to 6.8 million barrels a day, while exports decreased by 505,000 barrels a day to 4.2 million barrels a day.

Gasoline inventories were up by 2 million barrels to 228.8 million barrels, and were 1% below the five-year average, the EIA said. Gasoline stocks were forecast to fall by 1 million barrels. Demand for gasoline was 9.1 million barrels a day, down 166,000 barrels a day from the previous week.

Distillate fuel stocks rose by 2.5 million barrels to 119.3 million barrels, and were 6% below the five-year average. Distillate stocks were forecast to be down by 100,000 barrels a day.

Change in U.S. oil inventories for the week ended May 24: 
                   Crude       Gasoline      Distillates        Refinery Use 
EIA data:          -4.2           2.0            2.5                 2.6 
Forecast:          -1.4          -1.0           -0.1                 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

05-30-24 1201ET