Skip to main content

NEW YORK (

TheStreet

) -- With a weakening dollar as its backdrop, oil futures were surging past $81 in the afternoon -- reaching their highest levels of the year -- after government data showed a steep drop in gasoline supplies, coupled with a less-than-expected jump in oil inventories.

After tracking backward on Wednesday morning, the December delivery contract for benchmark crude was soaring $2.62 at $81.74 on the New York Mercantile Exchange in the afternoon. The November delivery contract, which expired on Tuesday, settled at $79.12 on Tuesday after falling 84 cents.

The EIA also said that gasoline stockpiles also fell by a steep 2.3 million barrels, while distillate fuel supplies dropped by 800,000 barrels.

After tracking backward on Wednesday morning, the December delivery contract for benchmark crude was up 65 cents at $79.77 on the New York Mercantile Exchange soon after release of the government report. The November delivery contract, which expired on Tuesday, settled at $79.12 yesterday after falling 84 cents.

Elsewhere in equity news, offshore oil driller

Noble

(NE) - Get Noble Corporation Report

and explorers

Range Resources

(RRC) - Get Range Resources Corporation Report

and

Newfield Exploration

(NFX)

TheStreet Recommends

will be on tap to report earnings sometime after the closing bell. So far on the day, Noble shares were gaining $1.15, or 2.7%, at $43.68. Range Resources and Newfield Exploration, too, were tracking up, adding 1.2% and 1% in the afternoon.

Among the major integrated concerns,

Exxon Mobil

(XOM) - Get Exxon Mobil Corporation Report

,

Chevron

(CVX) - Get Chevron Corporation Report

, and

ConocoPhillips

(COP) - Get ConocoPhillips Report

were all bidding higher, putting on 1.3%, 1.2% and 1.4%, respectively.

-- Written by Sung Moss in New York

Follow TheStreet.com on

Twitter

and become a fan on

Facebook.