U.S. oil output last week held strong by pandemic standards, but demand for petroleum products surged during the period and inventories declined, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said Wednesday.

Production for the week ended Dec. 10 was flat at a 2021 high of 11.7 million b/d. It had climbed by 100,000 b/d each of the two previous weeks. Output last week averaged 700,000 b/d higher than year-earlier levels, though it was still 1.4 million b/d below the early 2020 pinnacle, prior to the pandemic.

At the same time, imports fell. Oil imports averaged 6.5 million b/d last week, down 28,000 b/d from the prior period.

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Demand, meanwhile, jumped higher...