Oil Deepens Losses Despite Large Crude Draw, Run Rates Up

Brian L Milne
By  Brian L. Milne , DTN Refined Fuels Editor

WASHINGTON (DTN) -- New York Mercantile Exchange oil futures deepened losses in late morning trade Wednesday despite inventory data from the Energy Information Administration showing U.S. commercial crude oil inventories declined by a larger-than-expected margin during the week ended April 14, as refiners ramped up run rates ahead of the summer driving season.

Near 11 a.m. EDT, NYMEX RBOB May futures declined $0.0715 to $2.6781 gallon and ULSD May futures fell $0.0320 to $2.5679 gallon. NYMEX West Texas Intermediate futures for May delivery declined $1.27 barrel (bbl) to $79.57 bbl.

U.S. commercial crude inventory in the United States declined 4.6 million bbl last week to 466 million bbl and now stands about 2% above the five-year average. The draw was larger than a 2.67-million-bbl decline reported late Tuesday by the American Petroleum Institute, and well above a 500,000-bbl decline expected by analysts.

The sharp decline in crude stocks came despite another 1.6-million-bbl transfer of crude oil from the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve to the commercial side of operations. Similar sales will continue through June, according to the Department of Energy.

Oil stored at Cushing storage tanks, the delivery point for WTI futures, decreased 1.1 million bbl from the previous week to 32.8 million bbl, EIA said in its weekly report.

Domestic refiners, meanwhile, ramped up run rates by 1.7% from the prior week to 91% of capacity, processing 259,000 bpd more of crude oil compared to the previous week's input rate.

Gasoline stockpiles rose 1.3 million bbl to 223.5 million bbl last week compared with analyst expectations for a 1.2-million-bbl decrease. Demand for motor fuels fell by 417,000 bpd to 8.519 million bpd.

Distillate stocks, which are mostly diesel fuel, fell 355,000 bbl to 112.1 million bbl, and remain about 11% below the five-year average. Analysts estimated distillates inventories would fall 900,000 bbl from the previous week. Distillate fuel consumption remained nearly unchanged at 3.765 million bpd.

Over the past four weeks through April 14, gasoline supplied to the U.S. market averaged 9 million barrels per day (bpd), up 3.5% from the same period last year. Distillate fuel supplied averaged 3.9 million bpd over the past four weeks, up 4.9% from the same period last year. Jet fuel product supplied was up 5.4% compared with the same four-week period last year.

Brian Milne