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New York — US crude inventories climbed 4.74 million barrels last week to 476.78 million barrels, with higher production and lower refinery runs helping to offset a decline in imports, US Energy Information Administration data showed Wednesday.

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The crude stock build, combined with product inventory builds, was bearish for the futures complex.

July NYMEX crude settled at $61.42/b, down $1.71, while July ICE Brent settled $1.19 lower at $70.99/b.

NYMEX June RBOB was settled 2.81 cents lower at $1.9912/gal, and June NYMEX ULSD settled 3.03 cents lower at $2.0491/gal.

Of last week's crude build, 3.26 million barrels was in the Midwest.

Stocks at Cushing, Oklahoma -- the delivery point for NYMEX crude futures -- climbed 1.27 million barrels to 49.07 million barrels, the EIA data showed. Stocks at Cushing have risen 4.62 million barrels over the past five weeks. Cushing stocks are still well below capacity, at 64% of working storage capacity last week, according to the EIA's most recent capacity data.

Still, the Cushing build widened the Brent/WTI spread Wednesday, deepening the NYMEX crude discount to Brent to $9.57/b from $9.05/b Tuesday.

The crude market appeared well-supplied, with US crude production edging higher to 12.2 million b/d.

And while US crude imports fell 669,000 b/d to 6.94 million b/d last week, crude exports also fell, by 425,000 b/d to 2.92 million b/d.

US crude imports from Canada and Saudi Arabia climbed, although imports from Mexico, Iraq, Colombia, Brazil and Kuwait fell, the EIA data showed.

Some crude imports were likely delayed during the reporting week as the Houston Ship Channel was closed, or partially closed, for several days starting May 10 because of a collision. USGC imports at 1.8 million b/d last week were down 425,000 b/d.

US Census data shows only four crude tankers offloading in Houston the week ending May 17, down from eight tankers the prior week.

Crude imports from Canada rose 204,000 b/d to 3.69 million b/d last week. The economics to import Canadian crude remain strong, with the coking margin for Western Canadian Select averaging $15.83/b in the USGC and $25.75/b in the Midwest so far this month, S&P Global Platts data shows.

US demand for crude edged lower, with refinery inputs at 16.58 million b/d last week, down 98,000 b/d.


Refined products stock builds were also bearish. US gasoline stocks climbed 3.72 million barrels last week to 228.74 million barrels, the EIA data showed.

Stocks jumped 3.82 million barrels on the Atlantic Coast, home of the New York delivery point for the NYMEX RBOB contract.

The stock build tightened the USAC deficit to the five-year average to roughly 1.2% from 5.8% the prior week.

USAC gasoline imports climbed 206,000 b/d last week to 777,000 b/d, helping to lift inventories.

US gasoline production at 9.88 million b/d last week was down for the second week in a row, although was on par with the five-year average.

In contrast, US refiners have been maximizing diesel production. Refiners produced 5.21 million b/d of distillate last week, roughly 277,600 b/d above the five-year average.

The higher output helped push US distillate stocks 768,000 barrels higher last week to 126.42 million barrels, the EIA data showed.

Distillate inventories on the USAC climbed 1.81 million barrels to 38.16 million barrels, putting downward pressure on the New York-delivered NYMEX ULSD contract.

Combined low and ultra low sulfur diesel stocks at 33.97 million barrels on the USAC were roughly 7.8% below the five-year average, the EIA data showed. However, that was tighter than the 11.8% deficit the prior week.

-- Jeff Mower,

-- Edited by James Bambino,