U.S. stocks of crude oil, gasoline and heating oil grew last week according to the Energy Department on Wednesday, which was more bearish than Tuesday's industry report, analysts said. The figures were evidence that threadbare crude and products stocks that have plagued the petroleum complex most of this year are finally being replenished by increasing imports, analysts said.
Crude stocks rose 3.1 million barrels last week according to the Energy Information Administration
(EIA), about 700,000 more than shown in industry group the American Petroleum Institute
's (API) report late Tuesday. Heating oil stocks rose 800,000 barrels, according to the EIA, while API stocks showed a drop of nearly 300,000 barrels. The government data also reported gasoline stocks rose 2.4 million barrels, 1.6 million barrels more than the industry data.
Crude oil imports have risen steadily for the last three weeks at nearly 9.5 million barrels per day (bpd), up from nearly 8.0 million bpd three weeks prior, according to the EIA. "The import numbers are important," said Bill O'Grady, analyst with A.G. Edwards. "OPEC (the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) has been producing at volumes that usually make for lower prices than we're seeing now."
He said waning demand from Asia was diverting crude oil to the Atlantic Basin.
The EIA showed the release of barrels from the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) have also fortified stocks. About 90 percent of the 30 million barrels of oil from President Bill Clinton's September plan to swap crude oil from
the SPR has been delivered to oil companies the EIA said last week.
That, plus the increasing imports have pushed crude futures down about 20 percent over the last three weeks. - (Reuters)