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By David Gaffen
Oct 5 U.S. crude stockpiles fell last week for
the fifth time in a row despite slowing refinery activity,
although overall oil inventories remained at their highest in
this century, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said on
Crude inventories fell 3.0 million barrels in
the week to Sept. 30, the opposite of analysts' expectations for
an increase of 2.6 million barrels.
The five-week run of drawdowns has surprised some because it
was kicked off with a 14 million-barrel drop - the largest
plunge since 1999 - at the beginning of September as imports
were disrupted by severe Gulf Coast weather.
U.S. crude imports fell marginally last week,
slipping by 58,000 barrels per day.
Oil futures rose on the latest draw, with U.S. light crude
up 2.3 percent to $49.82 a barrel. Brent crude
was at $51.90 a barrel, up 2 percent.
"The inability of inventories to rebound given the steep
drop in refining utilization over the past two weeks is
especially bullish," said John Kilduff, partner at New York
energy hedge fund Again Capital.
Total U.S. crude inventories, excluding the U.S. Strategic
Petroleum Reserve, fell below 500 million barrels for the first
time since January, to 499.7 million. However, over the last 16
years, the historic average has been around 328 million barrels,
according to EIA data.
Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub
rose by 569,000 barrels, EIA said.
Refinery crude runs fell 302,000 bpd and
utilization rates fell by 1.8 percentage points,
the fourth consecutive week of lower activity.
At an overall utilization rate of 88.3 percent, refining
capacity utilization is about normal for this time of year -
slightly higher than in 2015 but lower than in 2014.
Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and
heating oil, fell 2.4 million barrels, versus expectations for a
700,000-barrel drop, the data showed.
Gasoline stocks rose 222,000 barrels, compared
with analyst expectations in a Reuters poll for a 702,000-barrel
(Reporting By David Gaffen; Editing by Marguerita Choy)