NEW YORK Nov 17 U.S. crude inventories fell steeply last week, according to weekly data from the American Petroleum Institute released on Tuesday, following storm-related disruptions to supplies in the Gulf of Mexico.
Crude stockpiles fell by 4.4 million barrels in the week to Nov. 13, well above analyst expectations for a 300,000-barrel drawdown.
The drawdown came after Tropical Storm Ida forced oil and natural gas producers in the Gulf of Mexico to shut down offshore rigs and installations as it passed through the region.
Inventories in the PADD 3 Gulf Coast region fell by 8 million barrels, according to the report, although overall U.S. crude oil imports rose by 165,000 barrels per day.
"At the outset, the API numbers on crude don't seem to add up, with the heavy crude drawdown even as it reported imports to be up and crude runs down," said Phil Flynn, analyst PFGBest Research, Chicago.
"But on a closer look, the stocks in PADD 3, the Gulf Coast, shows a big decline of 8.1 million barrels," he added. "So the storm probably impacted last week's import inflow. With API's data showing stocks up in other PADDs (except PADD IV), we have to assume imports likely flowed to those areas."
Crude stocks at Cushing, Oklahoma, rose by 1.3 million barrels.
Gasoline inventories fell by 963,000 barrels during the week, compared with analysts forecast for no change. Distillate stocks rose by 507,000 barrels, after analysts polled by Reuters predicted a 700,000-barrel drop.
U.S. crude traded up 53 cents to $79.43 after the API report was released.
Refinery crude runs dropped by 104,000 barrels per day (bpd) during the week, while heating oil stock fell by 713,000 barrels. Crude imports rose by 95,000 barrels.
The market is also awaiting weekly inventory data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, due out on Wednesday at 1030 a.m. EST (1530 GMT). (Reporting by Matthew Robinson; Editing by Christian Wiessner)