Wednesday, 16 February 2022 18:27

US weekly crude stocks rise, gasoline drops in mixed post-COVID trend




Washington [US], February 16 (ANI/Sputnik): Stockpiles of US crude oil rose for the first time in three weeks while gasoline inventories fell for a second week in a row in a mixed trend for energy consumption in an economy recovering from the coronavirus pandemic, government data showed on Wednesday.

Crude stockpiles rose by 1.12 million barrels last week, after declines of 4.76 million and 1.05 million respectively in preceding weeks, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said in its Weekly Petroleum Status Report. Inventories of gasoline, meanwhile, fell by 1.33 million, adding to the prior week’s drop of 1.64 million.

Analysts polled by US media had forecast a drawdown of 1.57 million barrels of crude and a build of 550,000 barrels of gasoline on the average for last week.

Inventories of distillates, meanwhile, fell 1.55 million barrels last week, continuing their decline for a fifth week in a row. Distillates are refined into diesel for trucks, buses, trains and ships as well as fuel for jets.

"The early stages of post-COVID shows a mixed trend for energy consumption, with a slight bias towards the bullish side," said John Kilduff, founding partner at New York energy hedge fund Again Capital, said.

He cited the continuous drops in weekly deposits at the Cushing, Oklahoma base for crude storage as a factor that tilted the market toward the bullish side.

Exports of crude oil, meanwhile, fell sharply last week to 2.27 million from 3.1 million in the prior week. Refinery utilization also fell by almost 2% last week to 85.3%.

Questions about the demand for oil had cropped up in recent weeks as EIA data showed little reductions in crude stocks and a jump instead in gasoline inventories -- despite a plunge in cases and hospital admissions for COVID-19 nationwide that would have typically led to more mobility and economic activity.

Gasoline is America’s premier fuel product. Inventories of the fuel had ballooned throughout January as refiners appeared to be maximizing fuel processing ahead of scheduled plant maintenance in March. Escalating winter temperatures in January also typically lead to less driving among Americans.

Notwithstanding the mixed trend for energy consumption, crude and pump prices of gasoline remained at around seven-year highs, supported by concerns about tight supply versus global demand. In Wednesday’s trade, world crude benchmark Brent hovered at just under $96 per barrel while US crude traded at just below $95. Pump prices of US gasoline averaged $3.51 per gallon, more than $1 above their pricing for the same time last year. (ANI/Sputnik)