Crude inventories fell 4.9 million barrels (bbl) in the week to Jan. 5, compared with analysts’ expectations for a fall of 3.9 million bbl.
Oil prices dipped on the news before recovering. The decline in crude stocks fell short of industry group the American Petroleum Institute, which reported an 11 million bbl crude draw on Jan. 9.
In addition, refining runs fell, pulling back from a 12-year-high in capacity utilization, and stocks of gasoline and distillates like diesel rose.
However, U.S. production dropped sharply, though those figures are not considered as reliable as monthly data, which is released with a lag. U.S. production fell 290,000 bbl/d to 9.5 million bbl/d, the EIA said.
“There must be a special factor at play, perhaps the extreme winter weather in North Dakota, which hampered shale oil production in the Bakken,” said Carsten Fritsch, oil analyst at Commerzbank AG in Frankfurt, Germany.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were trading 22 cents to $63.19/bbl as of 9:49 a.m. CST (15:49 GMT), while Brent rose 14 cents to $68.95/bbl.
Gasoline stocks rose 4.1 million bbl, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 2.6 million bbl gain.
Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, grew 4.3 million bbl, vs. expectations for a 1.5 million bbl increase, the EIA data showed.
“Refiners should be concerned with the continued increase in gasoline and distillate inventories, which will pressure refining margins,” said Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates in Houston.
Refinery crude runs fell 285,000 bbl/d as utilization rates fell by 1.4 percentage points to 95.3% of total capacity, EIA data showed.
Crude stocks at the Cushing, Okla., delivery hub fell by 2.4 million bbl, the EIA said.
Net U.S. crude imports rose last week by 152,000 bbl/d.