EIA: US Crude Stocks Down, Refining Runs Rise

(Reuters) — Crude oil and gasoline stocks fell in the most recent week, while refiners ramped up activity ahead of the heating season with inventories already tight, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Wednesday.

Crude inventories USOILC=ECI fell by 3.1 million barrels (MMbbl) in the week to Oct. 28 to 436.8 MMbbl, compared with analysts' expectations in a Reuters poll for a 367,000-barrel rise.

Analysts remain concerned that the ongoing draw on crude is still due to releases from strategic stockpiles - and that inventories of distillate products are not building enough either.

Refinery crude runs USOICR=ECI rose by 406,000 barrels per day last week, boosting overall utilization rates USOIRU=ECI nationwide to 90.6%.

That's generally a bit higher than average seasonally, and reflective of refiners' need to supply the market where key regions — such as the U.S. Northeast — are dealing with low inventories headed into heating season.

Refining runs notably increased in the U.S. Gulf, which accounts for nearly half of daily U.S. refining capacity. Overall processing rose to 91.3% of capacity.

"Gulf Coast crude stocks were down big and refinery runs were up which is supportive to the market," said Phil Flynn, analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago.

Distillate stockpiles USOILD=ECI, which include diesel and heating oil, rose by 427,000 barrels in the week to 106.8 MMbbl, versus expectations for a 560,000-barrel drop. Stocks in the Northeast and New England combined sit at just 14.4 MMbbl, compared with 27.6 MMbbl at this time a year ago.

U.S. gasoline stocks USOILG=ECI fell by 1.3 MMbbl.​

Net U.S. crude imports USOICI=ECI rose by 1.23 MMbbl per day, EIA said.

Oil prices were marginally higher on the news. Brent crude LCOc1 rose 45 cents to $95.10 a barrel as of 10:53 a.m. EDT (1453 GMT), while U.S. crude CLc1 gained 42 cents to $88.78 a barrel.

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