(Reuters) -U.S. crude oil stockpiles rose unexpectedly last week, even as inventories at the key Cushing hub dropped to their lowest level since 2018, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.
Fuel stocks fell and demand surpassed the previous week’s record, with total product supplied over four weeks averaging 22.1 million barrels per day, according to the EIA. The U.S. economy has recovered rapidly from the coronavirus-induced recession, boosting demand for fuels.
Crude inventories rose by 1.1 million barrels in the week to Feb. 11 to 411.5 million barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 1.6 million-barrel drop.
However, crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, storage hub fell by 1.9 million barrels to 25.8 million barrels, their lowest since September 2018.
Cushing’s importance to the market has waned in recent years as producers send more inventories to the U.S. Gulf for export, but it is still notable as it is the delivery point for U.S. crude futures.
Refinery crude runs fell by 675,000 bpd week, EIA said. Refinery utilization rates fell by 2.9 percentage points to 85.3% of capacity as those facilities start to move into maintenance season.
U.S. gasoline stocks fell by 1.3 million barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 550,000-barrel rise.
Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, fell by 1.6 million barrels.
(Reporting By David GaffenEditing by Marguerita Choy)