* EIA reports surprise drop in U.S. crude inventories
* Net crude imports drop to lowest on record -EIA
* Cushing crude stocks extend slide for a ninth week- EIA
* Dollar recovery runs out of steam (Updates market prices, adds commentary)
NEW YORK, Feb 22 (Reuters) - Oil prices rose to two-week highs on Thursday, boosted by data showing a surprise draw in U.S. crude inventories and also by a drop in the dollar.
U.S. crude inventories unexpectedly fell 1.6 million barrels last week as net imports dropped to a record low and exports surged, while inventories at the key storage hub in Cushing, Oklahoma continued to slide, according to data from the Energy Information Administration.
Crude inventories had been forecast to rise 1.8 million barrels, as stocks seasonally rise when refineries cut intake to conduct maintenance.
"It was a trifecta for the bulls with imports down, Cushing inventories continuing to slide lower and exports of crude soaring to over 2 million barrels per day," said John Kilduff, partner at Again Capital LLC in New York.
West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose $1.07, or 1.7 percent, to $62.75 a barrel by 1:56 p.m. EST (1856 GMT) after peaking at $63.09, its highest since Feb. 7.
Brent crude gained 96 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $66.38 a barrel, after touching its two-week high at $66.56.
Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub for U.S. futures fell 2.7 million barrels last week, the ninth straight week of drawdowns, the EIA said.
"The reason that the inventories continue to drop at Cushing is because the market remains backwardated and therefore it's uneconomical to be storing crude," said Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates in Houston, Texas.
In a market structure called backwardation, prompt crude prices are higher than forward prices, discouraging storage.
"It makes more sense to liquidate your on-hand inventories," Lipow said.
U.S. net crude imports fell 1.6 million barrels per day to just below 5 million bpd last week, the lowest level since the EIA started recording the data in 2001.
The decrease in net imports caught the market offguard, said Brian Kessens, portfolio manager at energy investment manager Tortoise Capital in Leawood, Kansas.
Exports of U.S. crude jumped to just above 2 million bpd, close to a record 2.1 million hit in October. That helped push net imports to the lowest level on record.
The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP), the largest privately owned crude terminal in the United States, completed the first very large crude carrier (VLCC) crude oil loading operation at its deepwater port, the company said on Sunday. The supertankers can ship about 2 million barrels of oil.
Oil prices were also supported as the dollar declined from an eight-day peak. A weaker dollar makes oil and other dollar-denominated commodities cheaper for holders of other currencies.
The correlation between moves in the oil price and the dollar has strengthened in recent weeks, as investors increasingly sell other assets to buy the U.S. currency on expectations of a faster pace of rate rises.
(Additional reporting by Henning Gloystein in Singapore and Amanda Cooper in London Editing by Marguerita Choy)