The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its weekly petroleum status report this morning. U.S. commercial crude inventories increased by 3 million barrels last week, maintaining a total U.S. commercial crude inventory to 362 million barrels, and remaining near the upper limit of the five-year range for this time of the year.
Total gasoline inventories decreased by 600,000 barrels last week, and remain in the upper half of the five-year average range. Total motor gasoline supplied (the EIA’s measure of consumption) averaged 9.2 million barrels a day over the past four weeks — up by 1% from the same period a year ago.
Distillate inventories fell by 300,000 barrels last week and remain near the lower limit of the average range. Distillate product supplied averaged more than 3.7 million barrels a day over the past four weeks, up by 3.1% when compared with the same period last year. Distillate production totaled about 4.9 million barrels a day last week.
The American Petroleum Institute last night reported that crude inventories rose by 2.5 million barrels last week, together with a decline of 1.1 million barrels in gasoline supplies and a rise of 1.8 barrels in distillate supplies. Platts estimated a drop of 250,000 barrels in crude inventories, a drop of 1.5 million barrels in gasoline inventories and an increase of 3,000 barrels in distillate inventories.
Crude prices were trading higher before the EIA report at around $109.90 a barrel and fell slightly to around $109.70 shortly after the report was released.
For the past week, crude imports averaged about 8.4 million barrels a day, up about 423,000 barrels a day from the previous week. Refineries were running at 91.3% of capacity, with daily input of 15.8 million barrels a day. That was about 71,000 barrels a day more than the previous week.
The crude oil stockpile finally broke an eight-week string of declines. The strong build in crude is overshadowed by recent events involving Syria, however. Crude prices have jumped about $5 a barrel since last week as oil traders try to figure out the impact that military intervention in Syria may have on supplies. Syria itself produces only about 300,000 barrels of oil a day, but the political consequences of any military action in the country are believed to be more significant than that small number of barrels.
Gasoline prices have reversed their decline this week. According to the AAA Fuel Gauge report, a gallon of regular gasoline costs about $3.55 today, compared with about $3.53 a week ago. Last month the price was $3.63 a gallon and one year ago the price of a gallon of regular gasoline was $3.76.
The United States Oil ETF (NYSEMKT: USO) is up 1.18%, at $39.33 in a 52-week range of $30.79 to $39.37. The high was posted earlier Wednesday morning.
The United States Gasoline ETF (NYSEMKT: UGA) is up about 0.9%, at $62.75 in a 52-week range of $53.35 to $65.86.
The United States Brent Oil ETF (NYSEMKT: BNO) is up 1.5%, at $89.43 in a 52-week range of $73.76 to $89.43. The annual high also was set today.