US crude supply was little changed week on week as an uptick in production was matched by sharply higher exports last week, US Energy Information Administration data showed Friday. US commercial crude supply edged lower by 46,000 barrels to 441.41 million barrels during the week ended December 21, EIA data showed. Analysts surveyed by S&P Global Platts on Wednesday expected a 1.4 million-barrel draw, while the American Petroleum Institute on Thursday called for a 6.9 million-barrel build.
The EIA data release was delayed until Friday due to the Christmas holiday. The slight decline in US crude stocks narrowed the surplus to the five-year average to 6.86%, down from 6.93% during the week- prior. Crude draws were concentrated in the Gulf Coast, where inventories fell 2.46 million barrels last week to 229.3 million barrels. The steep decline in USGC stockpiles was predicated on a 644,000 b/d increase in exports to 2.97 million b/d last week.
The large USGC draw was sufficient to bring nationwide inventories lower, even as all other regions added barrels to storage last week. East and West Coast stocks increased by 1.26 million barrels and 517,000 barrels to 48.6 million and 118.7 million barrels, respectively.
Notably, stocks in Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point of the NYMEX crude contract, grew 799,000 barrels to a 49-week high at 41.3 million barrels. The build at Cushing more than accounted for the entire uptick in Midwest crude stocks, which only increased 359,000 barrels to 129.2 million barrels last week.
Surging US exports were offset by a 100,000 b/d uptick in domestic production back to the all-time high 11.7 million b/d. Additionally, an unexpected 0.3 percentage point dip in refinery utilization to 95.1% of capacity brought total net crude inputs down 58,000 b/d to a five-week low at 17.35 million b/d last week. Analysts surveyed by Platts on Wednesday had expected refinery utilization to increase 0.3 percentage point to around 95.7% of capacity.
USGC refinery runs edged higher by 0.1 percentage point to a 15-week high at 97.9% of capacity, but despite this uptick, regional crude runs dipped 26,000 b/d to 9.37 million b/d. Midwest refiners also ran less crude last week, with net inputs dropping 77,000 b/d to 3.92 million b/d amid a 1.8 percentage point decline in regional run rates to 95.9% of capacity.