The U.S Energy Information Agency released its weekly domestic crude oil inventories Wednesday morning, noting stocks have decreased 2.5 million barrels week-over-week, but at 521.1 million barrels overall, U.S. supplies remain at historically high levels for August, according to the agency.
West Texas Intermediate crude futures spiked on the news of decreasing stockpiles after the falling below $46 per barrel leading into the 10:30 a.m. announcement. WTI futures approached $46.75 shortly after 11 a.m. ET.
And with the positive news and a spike in crude futures came the stocks of oil industry majors ExxonMobil (XOM - Get Report) , Chevron (CVX - Get Report) , ConocoPhillips (COP - Get Report) , which were all in the red early Wednesday thanks to a strong dollar and slumping commodity prices.
Meanwhile, U.S. crude oil imports averaged 8.2 million barrels per day last week, a decrease of 211,000 barrels per day from the prior frame. But in past four weeks, the EIA said the U.S. has imported more than 8.4 million barrels of crude per day on average, 11.3% above the same four-week period last year.
This news somewhat juxtaposes the EIA's Tuesday report, because while the U.S. may be importing more crude this year than in 2015, it also is exporting the product to more countries, according to the agency.
The number of countries receiving exported U.S. crude oil has risen since the removal of restrictions on exporting domestic crude in December 2015. The U.S. exported 501,000 barrels of crude per day in the first five months of 2016 on average, 43,000 barrels per day, or 9%, more than the full-year 2015 daily average.
Prior to lifting the export restrictions, however, the EIA said U.S. exports of crude oil had already increased significantly. But these exports were mostly to Canada, which was excluded from the previous restrictions.
To date this year the U.S. exported 501,000 barrels of crude per day to 16 different nations. This is a drastic improvement to the domestic exports between 2000 and 2013, which rarely surpassed 100,000 barrels per day, according to the agency. And it also is an improvement to 2015, when the U.S. was exporting 422,000 barrels of crude per day to Canada and 26,000 barrels per day to five other countries.
Crude exports have risen despite relatively small price spreads between international and domestic crude oils, as well as other factors that should reduce exports such as falling U.S. crude production and added cargo export costs, the EIA said.
Meanwhile, U.S. refiners Valero Energy (VLO - Get Report) and Marathon Petroleum (MPC - Get Report) both spiked following the agency's Wednesday report, as total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 2.7 million barrels week-over-week and domestic refinery inputs averaged about 16.9 million barrels per day during the week ending Aug. 12, 268,000 barrels per day more than the previous week's average.
The EIA said that total motor gasoline imports, including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components, last week averaged 610,000 barrels per day, but noted inventories are still well above the upper limit of the average range. And stockpiles of distillate fuel and propane/propylene rose by 1.9 million and 1.8 million barrels last week, respectively.
All told, total commercial petroleum inventories increased by 1.3 million barrels last week.