US Petroleum Inventories Rise, Imports Drop

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The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its weekly petroleum status report this morning. US commercial crude inventories rose by 2.8 million barrels last week, bringing the total US commercial crude inventory to 365.2 million barrels, around the upper limit of the five-year range for this time of the year.

A Platts survey provided a consensus estimate for a weekly inventory gain of 1.8 million barrels, while the American Petroleum Institute had projected an inventory gain of 6.85 million barrels. Today’s increase is substantially less than the 9 million barrels gained last week.

Total gasoline inventories fell by 4.3 million barrels last week and remain in the upper limit of the five-year average range. Over the last four weeks, gasoline supplied has declined by -4% compared to the same period last year. Total motor gasoline supplied averaged 8.6 million barrels/day for the four weeks.

For the past week, crude imports averaged 8.5 million barrels/day, a drop of 1.3 million barrels/day from the previous week. Refineries were running at 83.8% of capacity, with daily input of nearly 14.4 million barrels/day, down by 395,000 barrels/day from the previous week.

The drop in imports and in refinery utilization and inputs are likely the result of the switch over from winter to summer fuel and the big jump in inventories last week.

According to gasbuddy.com, US gasoline prices average $3.896/gallon today, compared with a pump price of $3.916 a week ago. AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report shows today’s price at $3.915. Gasoline prices are down about 2 pennies/gallon according to gasbuddy.com and about 1 penny/gallon according to AAA. It’s not much, but it’s a start.

Crude futures are likely to rise on today’s EIA report, mostly because the gain in crude inventories is relatively small and traders are looking at yesterday’s earnings report from Alcoa Inc. (NYSE: AA) as a positive sign for economic growth.

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