Fuel withdrawals offset small crude oil inventories build

The nation’s record-high stockpile of crude oil rose by another 900,000 barrels last week, but that was more than offset by large draw downs in fuel inventories.

Gasoline stockpiles fell by 3.7 million barrels, while inventories for distillate fuel oil, which is used to make diesel and heating oils, dipped by 2.5 million barrels, according to weekly Energy Department data.

U.S. oil production has continued to rise in recent months, leading to record storage levels, and largely offsetting the global cutbacks made by Saudi Arabia and other Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

As such, the U.S. benchmark for oil prices has fallen in recent weeks from more than $54 a barrel in February to about $49 per barrel on Wednesday.

The oil inventory level rose even though the U.S. exported more than 1 million barrels of crude last week.