US Crude & Gasoline Stockpiles Fall As Refining Intensifies

U.S. crude oil stockpiles fell quite unexpectedly in the in the week ending March 15, 2024, as exports rose and refiners went ahead and increased activity, while gasoline inventories decreased more than anticipated, the Energy Information Administration said on March 20, 2024.

Crude inventories dipped for the second straight week, decreasing by 2 million barrels to 445 million barrels in the week ending March 15, the EIA said, as compared to analysts’ expectations in one of the Reuters polls for a 13,000-barrel rise.

Gasoline stocks saw seventh straight week of drawdowns, dipping by 3.3 million barrels to 230.8 million barrels, said the EIA. Analysts had gone on to anticipate a 1.3-million-barrel draw.

When it comes to the Gulf Coast, gasoline in storage dipped by 1.82 million barrels to 76.58 million barrels, which is the lowest in three years, according to the ETA data.

Although inventories had been falling, oil prices went ahead as well as extended losses, partly due to weaker gasoline demand, said director of energy futures with Mizuho, Bob Yawger.

Yawger added that gasoline is a nice size draw, but its demand was down almost 200,000 barrels, which is also the first time in three weeks it has been below the nine-million-barrel mark. The rally that has been seen in the past few weeks has been partially because of gasoline, but those fundamentals don’t happen to be quite as strong.

Oil futures broadly went ahead and extended their losses after the report

Brent crude futures LCOc1 happened to be down $1.45, or, when it comes to percentage, around 7%, at $85.93 a barrel. The U.S. crude CLc1 fell $1.77, or 2.1%, to $81.70 for every barrel.

Crude stocks at Cushing, Oklahoma, which is a delivery hub for U.S. futures USOICC=ECI went on to lose 18,000 barrels in 2023.

Apparently, crude oil exports surged last week by 1.7 million barrels per day to 4.8 million bpd, thereby resulting in net U.S. crude imports falling by 947,000 bpd.

Refiners have begun to ramp up activity this February as the severe winter weather as well as outages began to affect processing rates.  It is well to be noted that refinery crude runs rose by 127,000 bpd, and refinery utilization rates went on to gain a percentage point in the week to 87.8% of the total capacity.

Distillate stockpiles, which go on to have in them diesel and heating oil, witnessed a surge by 624,000 barrels to 118.5 million barrels, as compared to the expectations for the 87,000 drop, the data from EIA showed.