Crude oil inventories fell by a larger-than-expected 6.0 million barrels in the September 29 week to 465.0 million, 0.9 percent below the level a year ago. Product inventories were mixed, with gasoline up 1.6 million barrels to 218.9 million, 3.7 percent below last year at this time, while distillates stocks fell 2.6 million barrels to 135.4 million, 15.7 percent below last year's level. A decline in crude inventories was anticipated, as refineries gradually coming back into operation after being shut down due to Hurricane Harvey deplete accumulated unrefined crude oil, but it exceeded the weekly drawdown of 4.1 million barrels reported Tuesday to subscribers by the American Petroleum Institute, a private investor group. WTI prices rose about 40 cents to around $50.60 per barrel immediately following today's EIA report.
Refineries operated at 88.1 percent of their operable capacity in the week, down 0.5 percentage points after jumping by a total of over 10 percentage points in the prior two weeks. Gasoline production was unchanged, averaging about 9.9 million barrels per day, while the production of distillates rose to 4.9 million barrels per day.
Daily crude oil imports fell by 213,000 barrels to an average of 7.2 million, taking the 4-week average to 7.1 million barrels per day, 10.7 percent below the level during the same period last year.
The demand side was steady, with total products supplied over the last four weeks averaging 20.2 million barrels per day, up by 1.9 percent from last year at this time. Motor gasoline supplied averaged 9.5 million barrels per day, up 1.3 percent year-on-year, while distillates supplied averaged 4.0 million barrels, up a sharp 12.0 percent from last year.