U.S. crude oil stockpiles take a steady dip

The nation’s supply of commercial crude fell by 5.2 million barrels last week, possibly helping to stem the tide of sinking oil prices.

Rising U.S. oil production from onshore shale plays like West Texas’ Permian Basin have contributed to fears of another global glut, pushing U.S. oil prices down from over $53 a barrel a month ago down to more than $46 per barrel Wednesday morning. However, prices had already risen by more than $1 on the day.

While oil inventories took the biggest dip, refined petroleum product stockpiles also fell a little. Gasoline stocks declined by 200,000, while distillate fuel oil, which is used to make diesel and heating oils, dropped by 1.6 million barrels, according to weekly Energy Department data.

Crude stockpiles have fallen a bit from record highs this spring, but the inventory levels are still well above average. Overall gasoline and distillate stocks also remain high compared to historical averages.