Crude Inventory Increase Doesn’t Slow Price Hike

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The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its weekly petroleum status report Wednesday morning. U.S. commercial crude inventories increased by 1.7 million barrels last week, maintaining a total U.S. commercial crude inventory to 393 million barrels, and they are now in the upper half of the five-year range for this time of the year.

Total gasoline inventories decreased by 1.8 million barrels last week, and remain in the middle of the five-year average range. Total motor gasoline supplied (the EIA’s measure of consumption) averaged 9.1 million barrels a day over the past four weeks, up about 5.4% over the same period a year ago.

Distillate inventories slipped by 200,000 barrels last week and remain below the lower limit of the average range. Distillate product supplied averaged over 4.1 million barrels a day over the past four weeks, up by 8.6% when compared with the same period last year. Distillate production averaged 5 million barrels a day last week, about even with the prior week’s production.

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Tuesday evening, the American Petroleum Institute (API) reported that crude inventories rose by 3.5 million barrels in the week ending May 23, together with a drop of 1.4 million barrels in gasoline supplies and a rise of 821,000 barrels in distillate supplies. For the same period, analysts estimated an increase of 1 million barrels in crude inventories, a rise of 200,000 barrels in gasoline inventories and a rise of 600,000 barrels in distillate inventories.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was trading up about 0.3% above Wednesday’s closing price of $102.72 before the EIA report at around $103.06 a barrel. The WTI price rose to $103.28 a barrel shortly after the report was released.

For the past week, crude imports averaged 7.8 million barrels a day, up by more than 1.3 million barrels a day over the previous week. Refineries were running at 89.9% of capacity, with daily input of 15.9 million barrels a day, down 98,000 barrels compared with the previous week’s average.

Crude oil stockpiles in Cushing, Okla., are down by 1.5 million barrels, according to API, to around 21.7 million barrels, less than half the storage capacity at the NYMEX contract delivery point. New pipelines from Cushing to the Gulf Coast have cut Cushing stockpiles by about 18 million barrels since January.

According to AAA, the current national average pump price per gallon of regular gasoline is $3.651, up from $3.649 a week ago and down from $3.693 a month ago. Last year a gallon of regular cost $3.621 on average in the United States.

Here is a look at how share prices at three U.S. producers reacted to the latest report.

Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) traded up about 0.4%, at $101.41 in a 52-week range of $84.79 to $103.45.

Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) traded down about 0.3%, at $122.15 in a 52-week range of $109.27 to $127.83.

Continental Resources Inc. (NYSE: CLR) traded up about 0.4%, at $139.51 in a 52-week range of $80.44 to $140.13. Continental is the largest producer in the Bakken shale play.

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