(Reuters) – U.S. crude oil stockpiles fell for a fourth straight week with the biggest slump in supplies at the Cushing, Oklahoma, hub in eight years, even as crude output hit another weekly record, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.
Gasoline inventories, meanwhile, soared far more than expected, even as refining rates slipped.
Crude inventories fell 5.1 million barrels in the week to Dec. 8, compared with analysts’ expectations for an decrease of 3.8 million barrels. At 443 million barrels, stocks were the lowest since October 2015.
Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub for U.S. crude futures fell 3.3 million barrels, EIA said, the largest one-week draw since September 2009.
Cushing stocks have dropped in recent weeks after last month’s closure of the 590,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) Keystone pipeline following a leak in South Dakota.
The line, one of Canada’s main crude export routes linking Alberta to U.S. refineries, is open again but running at reduced rates, which is still affecting current levels at the country’s main storage hub.
“We continue to see the impact of the (reduced capacity) of the Keystone pipeline that affected supplies into Cushing and is expected to continue to do so for the next several weeks,” said Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates in Houston.
Lipow said foggy conditions in Houston, a seasonal issue for that city’s shipping channel, affected crude imports as well.
U.S. crude imports rose 433,000 bpd last week.
Crude production in the United States rose to 9.78 million bpd, another weekly record. The monthly U.S. crude output record is 10.04 million bpd, set in November 1970.
After the data, U.S. crude futures was trading 3 cents lower at $57.11 a barrel, while Brent crude was down 20 cents to $63.14 a barrel.
“The report is modestly supportive on the large crude oil inventory decline. That decline was offset mightily by the large increase in gasoline inventories,” said John Kilduff, partner at energy hedge fund Again Capital LLC in New York.
Gasoline stocks rose by 5.7 million barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 2.5 million-barrel gain.
Refinery crude runs fell by 243,000 bpd as utilization rates slipped 0.4 percentage point to 93.4 percent of total capacity, EIA data showed.
Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, fell 1.4 million barrels, versus expectations for a 902,000-barrel increase, the EIA data showed.