US commercial crude oil inventories decreased by 0.1% for the week ending Dec. 18, according to data released by the Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Inventories decreased by 600,000 barrels to 499.5 million barrels against the market expectation of a fall of 3.2 million barrels.
Strategic petroleum reserves, which are not included in commercial crude stocks, remained unchanged at 638.1 million barrels last week, the data revealed.
Gasoline inventories decreased by 1.1 million barrels, or 0.5%, to 237.8 million barrels over that period.
- Crude production rises
According to EIA data, US crude oil imports increased by 140,000 barrels per day (bpd) to around 5.6 million bpd for the week ending Dec. 18, while crude oil exports also saw an increase of 472,000 bpd to 3 million bpd.
The data showed that US crude oil production increased by 13,000 bpd to approximately 11.5 million bpd during the same period.
US crude output is now estimated at 11.3 million bpd in 2020 and 11.1 million bpd in 2021, down from 12.2 million bpd in 2019, according to the EIA's forecast.
In November 2018, the US first surpassed Saudi Arabia, and then Russia to become the world's biggest crude oil producer.
By Sibel Morrow