US crude oil supplies drop by 7.4 million barrels

AP News
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Posted: Sep 06, 2012 11:20 AM
US crude oil supplies drop by 7.4 million barrels

NEW YORK (AP) — The nation's crude oil supplies declined last week, the government said Wednesday.

Crude supplies fell by 7.4 million barrels, or 2 percent, to 357.1 million barrels, which is 1.1 percent above year-ago levels, the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report.

Analysts expected a drop of 5 million barrels for the week ended Aug. 31, according to Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.

Imports of crude oil slowed as Hurricane Isaac blew through the Gulf Coast, reducing the nation's inventories.

Gasoline supplies decreased by 2.3 million barrels, or 1.2 percent, to 198.9 million barrels. That's 4.8 percent below than year-ago levels. Analysts expected gasoline supplies to shrink by 3.5 million barrels.

Demand for gasoline over the four weeks ended Aug. 31 was 0.7 percent higher than a year earlier, averaging 9.2 million barrels a day.

Isaac slowed refinery output, as many reduced operations ahead of the storm. U.S. refineries ran at 86.1 percent of total capacity on average, down 5.1 percentage points from the prior week. Analysts expected capacity to drop to 89.2 percent.

Supplies of distillate fuel, which include diesel and heating oil, grew by 1 million barrels to 127.1 million barrels. Analysts expected distillate stocks to fall by 1.5 million barrels.

Benchmark crude rose $1.66 to $97.02 a barrel in New York.