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Oil and gasoline inventories decline again, likely to boost prices

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The Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its weekly report today on the status of petroleum inventories in the United States. Here are some highlights:

CRUDE INVENTORIES:
Crude oil inventories decreased by 4.4 million barrels (MMbbl) to a total of 516.3 MMbbl. At 516.3 MMbbl, inventories are 10.8 MMbbl above last year (2.1%) and are in the upper half of the average range for this time of year. Inventories at the major delivery point in Cushing, OK declined by 0.7 million barrels for a total of 65.6 million barrels.

GASOLINE INVENTORIES:
Gasoline inventories decreased by 0.8 million barrels to a total of 239.9 MMbbl. At 239.9 MMbbl, inventories are down 0.2 MMbbl, 0.1% lower than a year ago and are near the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.

Here’s how individual regions and their gasoline inventory fared last week:
• East Coast (-0.2 MMbbl)
• Midwest (-0.2 MMbbl)
• Gulf Coast (-0.2 MMbbl)
• Rockies (-0.2 MMbbl)
• West Coast (-0.0 MMbbl)

It’s important to note which regions saw increases/decreases as this information likely drives prices up (in the case of falling inventories) or down (in the case of rising inventories).

DISTILLATE (DIESEL, HEATING OIL) INVENTORIES:
Distillate inventories decreased by 0.5 million barrels to a total of 146.3 MMbbl. At 146.3 MMbbl, inventories are down 4.5 MMbbl, or 3.0% lower vs. a year ago.

IMPLIED DEMAND:
Gasoline supplied to end users amounted to 9.7 million barrels per day (MMbpd), or 252,000bpd higher than the previous week. So far in 2017, gasoline supplied is 3.2% lower versus 2016, per the EIA.

REFINERY OUTPUT/UTILIZATION:
Refinery utilization increased by 0.1% vs. last week’s numbers to 93.5%. Gasoline production increased to 10.2 million barrels per day while distillate fuel production increased to 5.2 million barrels per day last week.

Utilization rates for the last week were as follows:
• East Coast: 87.1% (down 0.8%)
• Midwest: 96.4% (up 2.5%)
• Gulf Coast: 96.1% (down 0.4%)
• Rocky Mountain: 89.3% (up 0.4%)
• West Coast: 84.5% (down 1.2%)

These percentages show how much of a region’s overall capacity were used to refine oil. It’s important to note these percentages, because the lower the utilization percent, the lower output—which has a direct impact on local gasoline prices. If refiners in your region have low output, you’re more likely to see prices rise.

OVERALL SUPPLY:
Total oil stocks in the United States are up by 0.1 MMbbl (0.0%) over last year and stand at 1.34 billion barrels (excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve).

IMPORTS/EXPORTS:
The U.S. imported 8.3 MMbpd of crude oil per day last week, down by 296,000 bpd vs. the previous week. Total motor gasoline imports last week averaged 725,000 bpd. The U.S. also imported 101,000 bpd of distillate fuels. However, during the same timeframe, the U.S. exported 589,000 bpd of finished gasoline and 1,008,000 bpd of distillates. In total, U.S. refineries exported 5.3 MMbpd of oil and petroleum products.

Shortly before the EIA report was released, oil was trading up 13 cents per barrel. Shortly after the report was released, oil was up 32 cents per barrel.

Senior Petroleum Analyst, National (USA) / Midwest

Patrick has developed into the leading source for reliable and accurate information on gas price hikes. Patrick has been interviewed as a gasoline price expert hundreds of times since 2004. Based in Chicago, Patrick brings to GasBuddy all his assets to help consumers by giving reliable and accurate price forecasts, including the San Jose Mercury News dubbing Patrick "one of the nation's most accurate forecasters" in 2012.