Back to Analyst

Gasoline demand plunges, pushing inventories higher even as oil inventories plunge

|

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 3.4 million barrels (MMbbl) to a total of 453.7 MMbbl. At 453.7 MMbbl, inventories are 34.4 MMbbl below last year (7.1%) and are in the upper half of the average range for this time of year. Inventories at the major delivery point in Cushing, OK fell 2.9 MMbbl to a total of 58.3 million barrels.

GASOLINE INVENTORIES:
Gasoline inventories increased by 3.6 million barrels (MMbbl) to a total of 214.1 MMbbl. At 214.1 MMbbl, inventories are down 12.0 MMbbl, or 5.3% lower than a year ago and are in the middle of the average range for this time of year.

Here’s how individual regions and their gasoline inventory fared:

• East Coast (+2.6 MMbbl)
• Midwest (+0.5 MMbbl)
• Gulf Coast (-0.1 MMbbl)
• Rockies (+0.1 MMbbl)
• West Coast (+0.6 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 increased by 2.7 million barrels to a total of 127.8 MMbbl. At 127.8 MMbbl, inventories are down 26.4 MMbbl, or 17.1% lower vs. a year ago.

IMPLIED DEMAND:
Gasoline supplied to end users amounted to 8.7 million barrels per day (MMbpd), or 871,000bpd lower than the previous week. So far in 2017, gasoline supplied is 1.2% lower versus 2016, per the EIA.

REFINERY OUTPUT/UTILIZATION:
Refinery utilization increased by 1.3% vs. last week’s numbers to 92.6%. Gasoline production decreased to 10.2 million barrels per day while distillate fuel production decreased to 5.3 million barrels per day last week.

Utilization rates for the last week were as follows:

• East Coast: 99.0% (+0.4%)
• Midwest: 93.9% (-0.7%)
• Gulf Coast: 94.4% (+3.8%)
• Rocky Mountain: 82.3% (-3.9%)
• West Coast: 84.5% (-3.1%)

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 gas prices rise.

OVERALL SUPPLY:
Total oil stocks in the United States are down by 89.1 MMbbl (-6.6%) versus a year ago and stand at 1.252 billion barrels (excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve).

IMPORTS/EXPORTS:
The U.S. imported 7.33 MMbpd of crude oil per day last week, down by 544,000 bpd vs. the previous week, while crude oil exports fell 179,000 bpd to 1,412,000 bpd. Total motor gasoline imports last week averaged 526,000 bpd. The U.S. also imported 120,000 bpd of distillate fuels. However, during the same timeframe, the U.S. exported 1.2 mbpd of finished gasoline and 1.1 mbpd of distillates. In total, U.S. refineries exported 7.3 MMbpd of oil and petroleum products.

Shortly before the EIA report was released, oil was trading down 26 cents per barrel at $57.73. Shortly after the report was released, oil prices were down 28 cents per barrel.

Head of Petroleum Analysis (USA)

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.