Crude oil stocks jumped last week in the United States as refineries slowed sharply as production peaked, US Energy Information Agency (EIA) said Thursday .
During the week ended Oct. 11, crude oil trade reserves increased 9.3 million barrels to 434.9 million where analysts surveyed by Bloomberg expected a rise of 3 million barrels.
This "dramatic" increase was "fueled by the drop in the refinery utilization rate to its lowest level since Hurricane Harvey in September 2017," notes Matt Smith of ClipperData. The weather at the time forced many refineries on the Gulf Coast to suspend operations for several days.
Refineries are currently in full maintenance season and their activity has slowed down again: they operated at 83.1% of their capacity, against 85.7% last week and nearly 95% in early September.
At the same time, the United States has continued to increase its crude oil extractions to a new level over the past two weeks, averaging 12.6 million barrels per day (mbd).
"The 1.3 million barrels of strategic reserves released by the US government have only stirred the knife," says Matt Smith.
On the other hand, he adds, "the decline in refinery activity has contributed to a sharp decline in gasoline and distillate stocks, a saving element for investors betting on higher oil prices."
Gasoline reserves fell 2.6 million barrels, a little more than the drop of 1.5 million barrels anticipated by analysts.
Stocks of other distillate products (heating oil and diesel), for their part, fell by 3.8 million barrels, more than the decline of 2.5 million barrels.
The price of the WTI barrel quoted in New York remained on the same trend after the publication of the report, falling at 15:30 GMT by 35 cents, to 53.01 dollars.
Investors had already more or less positioned since the professional federation API had announced late Wednesday, according to several analysts, an even more pronounced increase in crude stocks.
Imports increased slightly to 6.30 mbd from 6.22 mbd in the previous week, while exports declined slightly to 3.25 mbd from 3.40 mbd in the previous week.
Also scrutinized since they serve as a benchmark for oil quotations in New York, WTI crude oil inventories at the Cushing terminal (Oklahoma, South) increased by 1.3 million barrels to 43.0 million barrels. barrels.
Demand for energy remains strong: over the past four weeks, the United States consumed an average of 21.1 mbd of refined products, up 5.4% over the same period last year. last year.