At 420.8 million barrels, the EIA said, inventories of crude oil were 14 percent below the five-year average for this time of the year.
A week earlier, crude oil inventories added a substantial 8.5 million barrels, weighing on oil prices temporarily.
In fuel inventories, the EIA estimated a mixed picture.
Gasoline stocks shed 4.8 million barrels last week, with production averaging 9.6 million barrels daily.
This compared with an inventory draw of 3.6 million barrels for the previous week and production of 9.7 million barrels daily.
U.S. gasoline prices keep breaking records. This week, prices topped $4 per gallon in all states for the first time, according to AAA data. Gasoline is most expensive in California, where drivers are paying an average of $6.02 per gallon.
Meanwhile, middle distillate inventories rose by 1.2 million barrels last week. Production averaged 4.9 million bpd.
This compared with an inventory decline in middle distillates of 900,000 barrels for the previous week and a daily production rate of 4.9 million barrels.
The middle distillate supply situation in the U.S. and elsewhere remains worrying, driving diesel prices sharply higher and fueling broader inflation. The problem appears to be insufficient refining capacity combined with stronger demand, at least according to OPEC+.
“There is no refining capacity commensurate with the current demand and the expectation of the demand in the summer,” said Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, the energy minister of Saudi Arabia at a recent industry event.
Global refining capacity shrunk during the pandemic and the lockdowns but demand for fuels has now rebounded strongly, revealing a gap with available supply and fueling a price rally that looks set to last for a while yet.
“These prices [for diesel and jet fuel] are insane,” Tom Kloza, the head of energy analysis at OPIS said earlier this week, as quoted by NPR. “It’s incredible. Refiners who really had a miserable 2020 are in clover and ambrosia right now.”
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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