Investing.com – Crude prices inched higher on Wednesday, holding steady after data showed a U.S. oil stockpiles fell more than forecast, while gasoline supplies jumped.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report that crude oil inventories fell by in the week ended Dec. 8. That compared with analysts’ expectations for a decline of 3.7 million barrels, while the American Petroleum Institute late Tuesday reported a supply-drop of around 7.4 million barrels.
Supplies at Cushing, Oklahoma, the key delivery point for Nymex crude, decreased by last week, the EIA said.
Total U.S. crude oil inventories stood at 443.0 million barrels as of last week, which the EIA considered to be in the middle of the average range for this time of year.
U.S. crude oil production rose by 73,000 barrels per day (bpd) last week to 9.78 million bpd, bringing output close to levels of top producers Russia and Saudi Arabia.
U.S. crude oil imports averaged 7.4 million barrels per day last week, up by 161,000 barrels per day from the previous week.
The report also showed that gasoline inventories increased by , much higher than expectations for a gain of 2.4 million barrels. For distillate inventories including diesel, the EIA reported a fall of .
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) tacked on 20 cents, or about 0.4%, to $57.34 a barrel by 10:40AM ET (1540GMT), after sliding 1.5% a day earlier. Prices were at around $57.27 prior to the release of the inventory data.
Meanwhile, futures, the benchmark for oil prices outside the U.S., were at $63.35 a barrel, up 3 cents from their last close.
The contract shed 2.1% in the prior session after rallying to its best level since July 2015 at $65.83 on news of a major pipeline outage in Europe.
Britain’s biggest pipeline from its North Sea oil and gas fields is likely to be shut for several weeks for repairs, its operator said on Tuesday. The pipeline, which carries about 450,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Forties crude, was shut after cracks were found.
It has particular significance to global markets because Forties is the largest out of the five crude oil streams that underpin the dated Brent benchmark.
Meanwhile, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) said its crude production fell by about 133,500 barrels a day in November to 32.45 million barrels a day, the lowest in six months.
However, the producer group also forecast that non-OPEC production will grow by nearly 1 million barrels a day in 2018, meaning oil markets may not rebalance before the end of 2018, the oil cartel said Wednesday in its closely watched monthly oil report.
In other energy trading, lost 1.7 cents, or 1%, to $1.687 a gallon, while was unchanged at $1.931 a gallon.
jumped 4.2 cents, or 1.6%, to $2.720 per million British thermal units. It ended down 5.3% to $2.678 per million British thermal units on Tuesday, amid forecasts for less heating demand through late December.