The API report was also said to find that crude inventories slid by 5.48 million barrels last week and supplies at the key Cushing, Oklahoma, pipeline hub declined by 1.95 million barrels, the people said.
Traders expect data from the API and EIA to show crude stocks fell 3.5 million barrels last week.
US crude stocks fell last week as refineries hiked output, while gasoline stocks increased and distillate inventories rose, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.
Market surveys estimated that U.S. gasoline and distillate inventories could have risen by 1,741,000 barrels and 967,000 barrels during the same period. Both WTI and Brent crude benchmarks continued to fall in after-hours trading yesterday, settling at $57.36 and $62.60 respectively around 9:00pm EST. So far companies have chosen to hedge at the higher prices rather than drill as they try to return to positive cash flow.
Brent crude futures were down $1.28 at $61.55 USA a barrel approaching noon ET Wednesday, after reaching a session high of $62.93 US, while USA crude futures dropped $1.33, or 2.2%, to $56.33 U.S.
Distillate inventories, too, saw a build this week, up 4.259 million barrels, against a forecast of a 548,000-barrel build.
According to AAA, the current national average pump price per gallon of regular gasoline is $2.478, down about two cents from $2.499 a week ago and up about five cents per gallon compared with the month-ago price.
Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) traded down about 0.2%, at $120.10 in a 52-week range of $102.55 to $122.30.