The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its weekly petroleum status report this morning. U.S. commercial crude inventories increased by 300,000 barrels last week, bringing the total U.S. commercial crude inventory to 394.1 million barrels, well above the upper limit of the five-year range for this time of the year.
Total gasoline inventories increased by 200,000 barrels last week and are also above the upper limit of the five-year average range. Total motor gasoline supplied (the EIA’s measure of consumption) averaged more than 8.8 million barrels a day over the past four weeks — a drop of about 0.4% compared with the same period a year ago.
Distillate inventories fell by 500,000 barrels last week, and remain in the lower half of the average range. Distillate product supplied averaged about 3.9 million barrels a day over the past four weeks, up about 8.5% when compared with the same period last year. Distillate production totaled 4.7 million barrels a day last week, essentially flat compared with the prior week.
The American Petroleum Institute last night reported an inventory decrease of 4.3 million barrels in crude supplies last week, together with a rise of 900,000 barrels in gasoline supplies and a decline of 600,000 barrels in distillate supplies. Platts estimated a drop of 1 million barrels in crude inventories, a rise of 1.2 million barrels in gasoline inventories and a rise of 300,000 barrels in distillate inventories.
Crude prices were up less than 0.1% before the EIA report at around $98.46 a barrel and slipped to around $98.41 shortly after the report was released.
For the past week, crude imports averaged more than 8.4 million barrels a day, up about 586,000 barrels a day from the previous week. Refineries were running at 89.3% of capacity, with daily input of 15.5 million barrels a day, about 300,000 barrels a day more than the previous week.
With both refining throughput and imports up this week, it may be indicating that refiners are increasing their blending of heavier, cheaper imported crude with lighter North American crude to keep their margins high. If this is the case, look for refiners to post another good quarter and integrated oil firms and pure-play E&P companies to experience a little softness.
The United States Oil ETF (NYSEMKT: USO) is down fractionally at $34.94, in a 52-week range of $29.02 to $37.17.
The United States Gasoline ETF (NYSEMKT: UGA) is up 0.3%, at $57.70, in a 52-week range of $45.13 to $65.86.
The United States Brent Oil ETF (NYSEMKT: BNO) is up 0.3%, at $80.94 in a 52-week range of $63.00 to $88.71.