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Oil inventories drop again as refinery utilization remains strong


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 oil inventories decreased by 4.9 million barrels (MMbbl) to a total of 419.5 MMbbl. At 419.5 MMbbl, inventories are 63.6 MMbbl below last year (13.2%) and are in the middle of the average range for this time of year. Inventories at the major delivery point in Cushing, OK fell 2.4 MMbbl to a total of 46.6 million barrels.

Gasoline inventories increased by 4.1 million barrels (MMbbl) to a total of 237.3 MMbbl. At 237.3 MMbbl, inventories are down 3.2 MMbbl, or 1.3% lower than a year ago and are near the top of the average range for this time of year.

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

• East Coast (+3.2 MMbbl)
• Midwest (+2.2 MMbbl)
• Gulf Coast (-2.4 MMbbl)
• Rockies (+0.5 MMbbl)
• West Coast (+0.5 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 inventories increased by 4.3 million barrels to a total of 143.1 MMbbl. At 143.1 MMbbl, inventories are down 27.0 MMbbl, or 15.9% lower vs. a year ago.

Gasoline supplied to end users amounted to 8.8 million barrels per day (MMbpd), or 164,000bpd higher than the previous week. So far in 2018, implied demand (“products supplied”) is 4.1% higher versus 2017, per the EIA.

Refinery utilization decreased by 1.4% vs. last week’s numbers to 95.3%. Gasoline production decreased to 9.5 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: 89.1% (-5.6%)
• Midwest: 94.1% (-1.7%)
• Gulf Coast: 96.6% (-1.3%)
• Rocky Mountain: 88.0% (-2.6%)
• West Coast: 96.5% (+0.8%)

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.

Total oil stocks in the United States are down by 115.6 MMbbl (-8.7%) versus a year ago and stand at 1.220 billion barrels (excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve).

The U.S. imported 7.66 MMbpd of crude oil per day last week, down by 308,000 bpd vs. the previous week, while crude oil exports fell 460,000 bpd to 1,015,000 bpd. Total motor gasoline imports last week averaged 264,000 bpd. The U.S. also imported 175,000 bpd of distillate fuels. However, during the same time frame, the U.S. exported 804,000 bpd of finished gasoline and 1,203,000 bpd of distillates. In total, U.S. refineries exported 6.1 MMbpd of oil and petroleum products.
Shortly before the EIA report was released, oil was trading up 38 cents per barrel at $63.34. Shortly after the report was released, oil prices were up 13 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.