By Anthony Harrup

U.S. crude oil inventories rose more than expected last week in a fifth consecutive build, while gasoline and distillate fuel stocks decreased, according to data released Wednesday by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Commercial crude-oil stocks--excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve--rose by 4.2 million barrels, to 447.2 million barrels, in the week ended Feb. 23 and were about 1% 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 rise last week by 1.5 million barrels.

Storage in the SPR increased by 743,000 barrels, to 360.3 million barrels, the EIA said.

Oil stored at Cushing, Okla., the Nymex delivery hub, was up by 1.5 million barrels, to 31 million barrels, and refinery capacity use rose by 0.9 percentage point, to 81.5%, the first increase this year. Refinery runs were forecast to rise by 1.1 percentage points in the Journal survey.

The EIA said U.S. crude oil production was steady, at 13.3 million barrels a day. Crude imports fell by 269,000 barrels a day, to 6.4 million barrels a day, and exports were down by 237,000 barrels a day, at 4.7 million barrels a day.

Crude oil futures turned lower following the report. West Texas Intermediate for April delivery was down 0.6%, at $78.41 a barrel, and international benchmark Brent was 0.3% lower, at $83.38 a barrel.

U.S. gasoline stockpiles fell for a fourth straight week and were down by 2.8 million barrels, at 244.2 million barrels, or 2% below the five-year average, the EIA reported. Gasoline demand was 8.5 million barrels a day compared with 8.2 million barrels a day the previous week.

Distillate fuel stocks extended their decline to six weeks, falling by 510,000 barrels, to 121.1 million barrels, and were 8% below the five-year average.

Gasoline and distillate stocks were forecast to fall by 1.3 million barrels and 2 million barrels, respectively.

Change in U.S. oil inventories for the week ended Feb. 23: 
                   Crude       Gasoline      Distillates         Refinery Use 
EIA data:           4.2          -2.8           -0.5                  0.9 
Forecast:           1.5          -1.3           -2.0                  1.1 

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

02-28-24 1141ET