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U.S. Crude Oil Stockpiles Fell for Second Week, Survey Shows

Dec. 19 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. crude inventories dropped for a second week as refineries in states along the Gulf of Mexico minimize supplies ahead of the end of the year to reduce tax bills, a Bloomberg News survey showed.

Stockpiles decreased by 2 million barrels, or 0.6 percent, to 332.2 million in the seven days ended Dec. 16, according to the median of nine analyst estimates before a weekly Energy Department report Dec. 21. All respondents forecast a decline.

Oil inventories declined in December during 11 of the past 12 years, based on weekly supply data. Some states along the U.S. Gulf of Mexico coast levy taxes based on the amount in storage at the end of the year.

“Crude supplies are expected to show a sizable draw mainly as a result of seasonal tendencies,” Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch & Associates, a Galena, Illinois-based consulting company, said in a report. “Crude stocks have decreased in five of the past five years” during this week.

Companies operated refineries at 85.1 percent of capacity in the seven days ended Dec. 16, unchanged from the prior week, the survey showed.

Inventories of distillate fuel, a category that includes heating oil and diesel, dropped 500,000 barrels, or 0.4 percent, to 141 million barrels last week, the survey showed. Five of the respondents anticipated a decline, three said there was an increase and one projected no change.

Gasoline supplies increased 1 million barrels, or 0.5 percent, to 219.8 million last week, the survey showed. Six analysts projected a gain and three estimated a decline.

The Energy Department is scheduled to release its weekly report at 10:30 a.m. on Dec. 21 in Washington.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Shenk in New York at mshenk1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Stets at dstets@bloomberg.net

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