WASHINGTON – Crude oil prices fell Wednesday as government data showed rising supplies of oil, gasoline and heating oil.
Light sweet crude for January delivery fell 64 cents to $59.30 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Heating oil futures fell by 2.2 cents to $1.75 a gallon while gasoline fell less than a cent to $1.5765 a gallon. Natural gas increased nearly 21 cents to $13.70 per 1,000 cubic feet.
In its weekly petroleum supply report, the Energy Department said U.S. inventories of crude oil grew last week by 2.7 million barrels to 320.3 million barrels, or 11 percent above last year.
Inventories of distillate fuel, such as heating oil and diesel, rose by 2.7 million barrels to 130.6 million barrels, or about 6 percent higher than last year.
Gasoline inventories rose by 2.7 million barrels to 202.6 million barrels, or 4 percent below last year.
The government report showed that oil imports grew by almost 900,000 barrels per day to 10.6 million barrels per day and that U.S. refiners ran their plants last week at almost 91 percent of capacity, up more than 1 percent from the prior week.
Oil and natural gas production facilities in the Gulf of Mexico have partly recovered from damage earlier this year by hurricanes Katrina and Rita, but still have a long way to go. About a quarter of the region's daily natural gas output, and a third of its oil output, is still down.
In London, Brent crude futures rose by 23 cents to $57.84 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.