US commercial crude oil inventories decreased by 1.6% for the week ending Jan. 1, according to data released by the Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Inventories decreased by 8 million barrels to 485.5 million barrels, more than the market expectation of a fall of 1.5 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 increased by 4.5 million barrels, or 1.9%, to 241.1 million barrels over that period.
-Crude production rises
According to EIA data, US crude oil imports increased by 43,000 barrels per day (bpd) to around 5.4 million bpd for the week ending Jan. 1, while crude oil exports also saw a rise of 7,000 bpd to 3.6 million bpd.
The data showed that US crude oil production increased by 1,000 bpd to approximately 11.5 million bpd during the same period.
The EIA's forecast shows that US crude output is now estimated at 11.1 million bpd for 2021, down from 12.2 million bpd in 2019.
In November 2018, the US first surpassed Saudi Arabia and then Russia to become the world's largest crude oil producer.
By Sibel Morrow