U.S. oil stockpiles probably dropped last week to the lowest level in almost two months as refineries kept their operating rates at the highest level since August, a Bloomberg survey showed.
Crude supplies fell 2.5 million barrels, or 0.7 percent, in the week ended Dec. 7 to 369.3 million, according to the median of estimate of 11 analysts surveyed before an Energy Department report tomorrow. That would be the least since Oct. 12. Ten respondents forecast a decrease and one projected a gain.
Refinery rates stayed at 90.6 percent, the highest level since Aug. 24, the survey showed. Oil stockpiles fell 2.36 million barrels in the week ended Nov. 30, down for a third week, the Energy Department reported last week.
“Crude supplies are expected to indicate a draw mainly as a result of additional strength in refinery demand,” said Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch & Associates, a Galena, Illinois-based consulting company, in a note to clients. The refinery rate has increased 1 percentage point, he estimated.
Crude oil for January delivery gained 23 cents, or 0.3 percent, to close at $85.79 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Futures are down 13 percent this year.
The Bloomberg survey also showed gasoline stockpiles probably gained 2 million barrels, or 0.9 percent, to 214.1 million. Ten respondents projected an increase and one a decline. Inventories jumped 7.86 million the previous week to 212.1 million.
Stockpiles of distillate fuel, including diesel and heating oil, probably rose 1.1 million barrels, or 1 percent, to 116.2 million, according to the median of responses. Ten respondents forecast an advance and one a drop. Supplies increased 3.03 million barrels the previous week to 115.1 million.