Oil Surges on Unexpected Crude Draw, Gasoline Demand Jumps

Liubov Georges
By  Liubov Georges , DTN Energy Reporter

WASHINGTON (DTN) -- Oil futures nearest delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange advanced more than 2% in late-morning trade Wednesday after inventory data from the Energy Information Administration showed total crude oil and fuel inventories in the United States declined for a second straight week through Sept. 30, while demand for gasoline surged, topping 9 million barrels per day (bpd) for the first time since early August.

Commercial crude oil stockpiles fell 1.4 million barrels (bbl) to 429.2 million bbl last week, counter to expectations for a 1.3 million bbl build, and despite a 6.2 million bbl drawdown from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The draw pressed inventory to a four-week low while 13.1 million bbl or 3% below the five-year average.

The crude draw was realized as the U.S. refinery run rate rose 0.7% to 91.3% of capacity against expectations for a 0.4% decline in utilization, with refiners processing 210,000 bpd or 1.3% more crude oil during the final week of September compared with the previous week.

Crude exports remained strong too at 4.551 million bpd, the third highest weekly export rate in 2022. During the second week of August, U.S. crude exports reached 5 million bpd, with crude exports at 4.646 million bpd during the week-ended Sept. 23. The U.S. crude net import rate, which subtracts crude exports from crude imports, fell to the second lowest weekly rate in 2022 at 1.4 million bpd.

Data for gasoline was also bullish, with EIA reporting a 640,000-bpd jump in implied demand for the final week of September to 9.465 million bpd -- the highest weekly consumption rate for the transportation fuel in 2022. While gasoline demand typically trends lower in September, inventory movement from Gulf Coast refiners to southeastern states ahead of Hurricane Ian might have boosted the implied demand reading, which measures the barrels delivered to the U.S. market. PADD 3 Gulf Coast gasoline stocks were drawn down 3.8 million bbl during the week reviewed to 78.6 million bbl, an 18-month low.

Gasoline stockpiles fell 4.7 million bbl to 207.5 million bbl last week, pressing gasoline inventory to the lowest point since November 2014.

A 3.4 million bbl draw in distillate stocks was also bullish, with the decline more than expectations for a 1.4 million bbl draw, pressing inventory to a 110.916 nine-week low and 28.3 million bbl or 20.3% below the five-year average.

Bullish EIA data joined by OPEC+ agreeing to a 2 million bpd production cut beginning in November pushed crude futures prices to three-week highs and refined products futures to five-week highs late morning. Shortly after the noon hour in Washington, a statement from the White House expressing disappointment with the OPEC+ decision pressed oil futures off their highs and sent the front month gasoline contract lower.

NYMEX November West Texas Intermediate were trading near $87.50 bbl, easing from an $88.42 high, and ICE December Brent was over $93 bbl after trading just shy of $94 bbl. NYMEX November ULSD futures were nearly 15 cents higher near $3.6820 gallon after trading as high as $3.7174 gallon, and November RBOB futures were slightly lower near $2.68 gallon after rallying to a $2.70 high.

Liubov Georges can be reached at liubov.georges@dtn.com

Liubov Georges