U.S. crude-oil inventories probably rose for a second week as imports extended the biggest one-week surge in three years, a Bloomberg News survey showed.
Inventories gained 1.9 million barrels, or 0.6 percent, to 342.9 million in the seven days ended Sept. 30, according to the median of 10 analyst estimates before a weekly Energy Department report tomorrow. Eight of the respondents projected a stockpile increase and two forecast a drop.
Crude oil imports climbed 16 percent in the week ended Sept. 23 to 9.7 million barrels a day as shipments recovered following the shut-ins of rigs and platforms caused by Tropical Storms Lee and Nate. It was the biggest one-week gain since Sept. 26, 2008.
“We should see imports strong again because of arbitrage, because there’s plenty of crude on the global market and because of increased OPEC production,” said Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch & Associates, a Galena, Illinois-based consulting company, in an interview. “There’s also an expected drop in refinery runs.”
The oil survey responses ranged from a 4 million-barrel increase to a 2.75 million-barrel decline. Supplies increased by 1.92 million barrels to 341 million barrels in the week ended Sept. 23, the first advance following three weeks of declines.
Refineries operated at 87.3 percent of capacity last week, down 0.5 percentage point, according to the median of nine survey responses. Refiners perform maintenance in the autumn and spring, between the peak demand periods for gasoline in the summer and heating oil in the winter.
“It’s a seasonal thing,” said Jacob Correll, a commodity analyst at Summit Energy Inc. in Louisville, Kentucky, said in an interview. “Typically at this time of year we get refinery utilization rates dropping off and see crude building.”
Gasoline inventories rose 1.23 million barrels, or 0.6 percent, to 216.1 million in the week ended Sept. 30, according to the responses. Eight of the analysts estimated a gain, and two said there was a decline.
Supplies of distillate fuel, a category that includes heating oil and diesel, decreased 400,000 barrels last week to 157.3 million, the survey showed. Seven of the respondents predicted a drop, and three said inventories increased.
The Energy Department is scheduled to release its weekly report at 10:30 a.m. Oct. 5 in Washington.
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