Oil

US crude stockpiles rise, fuel draws on low refining levels - EIA

Credit: REUTERS/LUCY NICHOLSON

By Laura Sanicola

Feb 28 (Reuters) - U.S. crude oil stockpiles rose while gasoline and distillate inventories fell last weekas refiners continued to operate at low rates due to planned and unplanned outages, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

Crude inventories rose for the fifth consecutive week, increasing by 4.2 million barrels to 447.2 million barrels in the week ending Feb. 23, the EIA said, compared with analysts' expectations in a Reuters poll for a 2.7 million-barrel rise.

Brent oil LCOc1 and West Texas Intermediate CLc1 crude futures were little changed after the data was released. O/R

Unplanned refinery outages following a winter storm in January, along with planned plant turnarounds, has kept refining running at low levels.

Refinery crude runs USOICR=ECI edged up by 100,000 barrels per day, and refinery utilization rates USOIRU=ECI rose by 0.9 percentage point to 81.5% of total capacity in the week.

"The refining activity was definitely showing that we are still running at historically low levels," said Phil Flynn, analyst at Price Futures Group

Gasoline stocks USOILG=ECI fell for a fourth consecutive week, decreasing by 2.8 million barrels to 244.2 million barrels, nearly double forecasts for a 1.5 million-barrel draw.​

Distillate stockpiles USOILD=ECI, which include diesel and heating oil, were down by 510,000 barrels to 121.1 million barrels, versus expectations for a 2.1 million-barrel drop, the data showed.

An outage starting at the beginning of February at the 435,000-bpd Whiting facility in Indiana, the Midwest's largest refinery, has contributed to the product draws and crude builds.

"If this trend continues for the next six to eight weeks, we could see gasoline inventories tighten up as we go into the driving season," said Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates in Houston.

Net U.S. crude imports USOICI=ECI fell by 32,000 bpd, the EIA said.

(Reporting by Laura Sanicola in Washington and Laila Kearney in New York Editing by Marguerita Choy)

((Laura.Sanicola@thomsonreuters.com;))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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