by David Gaffen
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Oil prices rose on Wednesday as supply crunch and US refiners pushed processing activity to their highest level since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Brent futures for July edged up 47 cents to $114.03 a barrel, while US crude oil (WTI) for delivery in July was up 56 cents at $110.33 a barrel.
US crude inventories fell by 1 million barrels last week, the government said, with gasoline inventories also falling marginally.
US distillate inventory increased by 1.7 million barrels. Refiners ramped up processing speeds, boosting capacity utilization to 93.2%, the highest since December 2019.
Refineries have had to run facilities at full speed to cope with strong demand, especially from overseas, as exports of refined products exceeded 6.2 million barrels per day last week.
Higher exports and reduced refining capacity have meant that gasoline inventories in the United States have dwindled.
(Additional reporting by Rowena Edwards, Stephanie Kelly and Scott DiSavino, by David Gaffen)