Oil prices rose on Wednesday after U.S. crude inventories declined for the eighth straight week and a storm approached the Gulf Coast with the potential to disrupt oil and refined products output.
Brent crude, the international benchmark for oil prices, was up 69 cents, or 1.3 percent, at $52.56 per barrel by 2:26 p.m. (1826 GMT). U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose 54 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $48.37 a barrel.
U.S. crude inventories fell 3.3 million barrels last week, compared with analyst expectations for a decrease of 3.5 million barrels. Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub fell 503,000 barrels, the Energy Information Administration said.
Meanwhile U.S. gasoline inventories were down 1.2 million barrels, compared with analyst expectations in a Reuters poll for a 643,000-barrel decline.
"Oil inventories continue their downward trend despite a significant increase in crude oil imports this week," said Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates in Houston, Texas.