A modest oil price rally in the past 48 hours continued Wednesday morning despite a report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration that showed a lower than expected 900,000-barrel build in U.S. crude inventories during the week ending March 24.
Shortly after the 10:30 a.m. ET release, U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate oil contracts for May delivery were trading up 1.4% to above $49 a barrel.
The EIA said U.S. stockpiles, excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, had increased by 900,000 barrels from the previous week, while both gasoline and distillate fuel inventories decreased during the frame.
Total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 3.7 million barrels last week, and distillate fuel inventories fell by 2.5 million barrels last week.
U.S. crude oil inventories remain in the upper limit of the average range for this time of year, according to the EIA.
Crude futures had been rallying between Tuesday and Wednesday after reports of a Libyan supply disruption emerged. The Libyan supply disruption is thought to be around 500,000 barrels of oil per day, Seaport Global Securities analysts wrote in a Wednesday morning note.
And despite showing a 1.9 million barrel build in domestic crude inventories, a report from the American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday evening did not serve to significantly stall the rally, as the organization reported that crude stockpiles at the world's largest crude oil storage facility in Cushing, Okla., had decreased by 576,000 barrels.
Still, the EIA data is bullish when compared with consensus estimates, which were calling for a 2 million barrel increase in crude inventories week-over-week, according to KLR Group analysts.
The stocks of major U.S.-listed oil producers, including Exxon Mobil (XOM) - Get Report, Chevron (CVX) - Get Report and EOG Resources (EOG) - Get Report, all shot higher around the time of the 10:30 a.m. release. Oilfield services majors like Schlumberger (SLB) - Get Report and U.S. refiners like Phillips 66 (PSX) - Get Report, despite all being in the red during the first hour of Wednesday trading.
U.S. crude oil refiners are kicking back into gear, as the EIA reported refinery inputs averaged over 16.2 million barrels per day during the week ending March 24 -- 425,000 barrels per day more than the previous week's average.