US commercial crude oil inventories recorded their highest weekly increase ever for the week ending Feb. 26, according to the latest data released by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) on Wednesday.
Inventories rose by a massive 21.6 million barrels, or 4.7%, to 484.6 million barrels, smashing the market expectation of a 1.9 million-barrel draw, and marking the biggest increase on record since 1982.
Strategic petroleum reserves, which are not included in commercial crude stocks, remained unchanged at 637.8 million barrels last week, the data showed.
Moreover, the country's gasoline inventories plunged to an all-time low. Gasoline inventories decreased by a record 13.6 million barrels, or 5.3%, to 243.5 million barrels over the period.
Unexpected increases and decreases in stocks came after production fell by as much as 65% in Texas, which experienced one of its coldest winters in decades, causing major blackouts and refinery production halts.
- Crude production increases
The increase in commercial crude oil inventories was also driven by a big jump in the country's crude imports.
According to EIA data, US crude oil imports increased by around 1.7 million barrels per day (bpd) to around 6.3 million bpd for the week ending Feb. 26, while crude oil exports also saw a rise of 37,000 bpd to approximately 2.4 million bpd.
The data showed that US crude oil production increased by 283,000 bpd to around 10.5 million bpd during the same period.
The EIA's forecast shows that US crude output is now estimated at 11 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