Oil prices climbed on Wednesday after weekly inventory data in the US showed a larger than expected draw down in crude stocks.
The data showed that for the week ending 19 May US commercial crude oil inventories decreased by 4.4m barrels from the previous week, when 1.8m barrels were drawn down.
The larger than expected decrease in inventories was largely due to weaker imports and growing refinery inputs – particularly into gasoline production as US petrol suppliers prepare for the pick up in demand attributed to the summer driving season.
US crude imports averaged 8.3m barrels per day last week, down by 296,000 barrels a day in the previous week.
Refineries pump up the volume
Refineries reported that crude inputs averaged 17.3m barrels a day last week, a rise of 159,000 over the previous week. Meanwhile, refineries operated at 93.5% of their operable capacity.
The data appeared bullish and initial reaction was for gains on commodity exchanges, with Nymex West Texas Intermediate up 0.1% at $51.55 a barrel, while Brent crude rose 0.2% to $54.35 a barrel.
Given the pick up in petrol production, the RBOB gasoline price eased 0.2% to 165.8 US cents per gallon.