Crude oil inventories fell by a larger-than-expected 4.4 million barrels in the May 19 week to 516.3 million, extending the drawdown streak to 7 consecutive weeks and narrowing the gain on the year ago level to 2.1 percent. Product inventories also declined, though less than analysts expected, with gasoline down 0.8 million barrels to 239.9 million, down 0.1 percent from the same period last year, and distillates down 0.5 million barrels to 146.3 million, 3.0 percent below the year ago level. Analysts had expected a smaller decrease of around 3 million barrels for crude oil inventories, with the American Petroleum Institute (API), an industry group, Tuesday reporting a weekly decrease of 1.5 million barrels. But the EIA-reported gasoline and distillates drawdowns were much smaller than expected, as the API report showed gasoline down 3.2 million barrels and distillates down 1.9 million.
Crude oil imports fell in the week, averaging 8.3 million barrels per day, down 296,000 barrels per day from the prior week. Imports over the last 4 weeks averaged 8.2 million barrels per day, 8.1 percent above the same period last year.
On the demand side, total product supplied over the last 4 weeks averaged 20.2 million barrels per day, down 0.8 percent from last year at this time. Of this amount, motor gasoline supplied averaged 9.4 million barrels per day, down 1.9 percent year-on-year, while distillates supplied averaged 4.2 million barrels per day, up 3.6 percent from the year ago level.
WTI crude oil prices, which have been propelled higher in recent sessions by expectations that OPEC will extend its 1.8 million barrel per day output cut by 6 to 9 months this Thursday, gyrated in a range of $51.30 to $51.70 per barrel immediately following the EIA release.