(Updates inventory projections beginning in the second paragraph.)
Oct. 4 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. crude-oil inventories probably rose for a second week as imports extended the biggest one-week gain in three years, a Bloomberg News survey showed.
Inventories gained 1.5 million barrels, or 0.4 percent, to 342.5 million in the seven days ended Sept. 30, according to the median of 15 analyst estimates before a weekly Energy Department report tomorrow. Nine of the respondents projected a stockpile increase and six estimated 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 and Hurricane Irene. It was the biggest one- week gain since Sept. 26, 2008.
Supplies rose “as imports should remain at somewhat elevated levels,” Tom Pawlicki, a Chicago-based analyst with MF Global Holdings Ltd., said in a report. Last week’s gain was “prompted by recovery from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee earlier in the month. That brought the rate of import from 8.35 million barrels a day to 9.7 million barrels a day, which in both cases is near the low and high ranges for the year.”
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 14 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.
Crude oil stockpiles “usually show builds through mid- October before they begin leveling off,” Pawlicki said. “Increased refinery maintenance is a big reason.”
Gasoline inventories increased 1.5 million barrels, or 0.7 percent, to 216.4 million in the week ended Sept. 30, according to the responses. Thirteen 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 300,000 barrels, or 0.2 percent, to 157.4 million last week, the survey showed. Nine of the respondents predicted a drop and six said inventories rose.
The Energy Department is scheduled to release its weekly report at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow in Washington.
--Editors: Bill Banker, Charlotte Porter
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