A weekly report showed a larger-than-expected drop in US crude inventories, although prices for the underlying commodity stayed weaker on Wednesday.
Energy Information Administration data showed showed a six million barrel fall in the week to Sept. 29. On Tuesday, the American Petroleum Institute said crude inventories fell 4.1 million barrels in the week to Sept. 29, according to Reuters. A Reuters poll projected a drop of 756,000 barrels and a Bloomberg survey projected a draw of 500,000.
West Texas Intermediate crude oil, the main US benchmark, was down about 1% Wednesday afternoon to touch below $50 a barrel while Brent, the international standard, slipped 0.6%.
Gasoline supplies rose 1.6 million barrels while distillate stocks were down by 2.6 million barrels. Gasoline production remained virtually unchanged last week, averaging about 9.9 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production increased last week, averaging over 4.9 million barrels per day.
Refinery usage fell to 88.1% from 88.6%.
US crude oil imports averaged over 7.2 million barrels a day last week, down by 213,000 barrels a day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports averaged over 7.1 million barrels a day, 11% below the same four-week period last year.
Total motor gasoline imports, including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components, last week averaged 862,000 barrels a day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 72,000 barrels a day.