US commercial crude oil inventories increased by 0.2% for the week ending March 19, according to the latest data released by the Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Inventories increased by 1.9 million barrels to 502.7 million barrels, higher than the market expectation of a rise of 900,000 barrels.
Strategic petroleum reserves, which are not included in commercial crude stocks, remained unchanged at 637.8 million barrels last week, the data revealed.
Gasoline inventories also increased by 200,000 barrels, or 0.1%, to 232.3 million barrels over that period.
- Crude production rises
According to EIA data, US crude oil imports increased by 299,000 barrels per day (bpd) to around 5.62 million bpd for the week ending March 19, while crude oil exports fell by 39,000 bpd to 2.48 million bpd.
The data showed that US crude oil production increased by 95,000 bpd to approximately 11.45 million bpd during the same period.
The EIA's forecast shows that US crude output is estimated at 11.1 million bpd for 2021, down from 11.3 million bpd in 2020.
In November 2018, the US first surpassed Saudi Arabia and then Russia to become the world's largest crude oil producer.
By Firdevs Yuksel