WASHINGTON – US crude stockpiles rose last week by 2.2 million barrels to 429.7 million barrels, the Energy Department said Wednesday.
The unexpected rise caught analysts, who were forecasting a drop in crude stocks of more than 1 million barrels in the week ending April 20, by surprise.
“US crude oil inventories are in the lower half of the average range for this time of year,” the Energy Department said in its weekly report.
Following the report’s release, the price of benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude for June delivery rose $0.11 to $67.81.
“Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports averaged over 8.2 million barrels per day, 1.5 percent more than the same four-week period last year,” the Energy Department said.
Gasoline stockpiles rose by 800,000 barrels to 236.8 million barrels.
Distillate fuel inventories, including diesel and heating oil, fell by 2.6 million barrels to 122.7 million barrels.
US refineries operated at 90.8 percent of capacity, below the 92.4 percent level achieved during the previous week.