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Oil inventories plummet as refiners churn out gasoline, distillates at breakneck pace


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 7.4 million barrels (MMbbl) to a total of 424.5 MMbbl. At 424.5 MMbbl, inventories are 54.5 MMbbl below last year (11.4%) 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 49.0 million barrels.

Gasoline inventories increased by 4.8 million barrels (MMbbl) to a total of 233.2 MMbbl. At 233.2 MMbbl, inventories are down 2.3 MMbbl, or 1.0% lower than a year ago and are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.

Here’s how individual regions and their gasoline inventory fared:
• East Coast (+0.0 MMbbl)
• Midwest (+2.7 MMbbl)
• Gulf Coast (-0.2 MMbbl)
• Rockies (+0.1 MMbbl)
• West Coast (+2.2 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 8.9 million barrels to a total of 138.8 MMbbl. At 138.8 MMbbl, inventories are down 22.9 MMbbl, or 14.1% lower vs. a year ago.

Gasoline supplied to end users amounted to 8.6 million barrels per day (MMbpd), or 834,000bpd lower than the previous week. To finish 2017, gasoline supplied was 0.9% lower versus 2016, per the EIA.

Refinery utilization increased by 1.0% vs. last week’s numbers to 96.7%. Gasoline production decreased to 9.7 million barrels per day while distillate fuel production increased to 5.6 million barrels per day last week.

Utilization rates for the last week were as follows:
• East Coast: 94.7% (-3.7%)
• Midwest: 95.8% (+0.6%)
• Gulf Coast: 97.9% (+1.8%)
• Rocky Mountain: 90.6% (+2.3%)
• West Coast: 95.7% (-0.6%)

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 96.6 MMbbl (-7.3%) versus a year ago and stand at 1.225 billion barrels (excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve).

The U.S. imported 7.97 MMbpd of crude oil per day last week, down by 27,000 bpd vs. the previous week, while crude oil exports rose 265,000 bpd to 1,475,000 bpd. Total motor gasoline imports last week averaged 349,000 bpd. The U.S. also imported 129,000 bpd of distillate fuels. However, during the same time frame, the U.S. exported 953,000 bpd of finished gasoline and 862,000 bpd of distillates. In total, U.S. refineries exported 5.9 MMbpd of oil and petroleum products.

Shortly before the EIA report was released, oil was trading up 9 cents per barrel at $61.72. 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.