Crude Oil Price Stumbles on Big Additions to Oil, Refined Products Stockpiles

Print Email

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its weekly petroleum status report Wednesday morning, showing that U.S. commercial crude inventories increased by 1.9 million barrels last week, maintaining a total U.S. commercial crude inventory of 420.3 million barrels. The commercial crude inventory remained in the middle of the average range for this time of year.

Tuesday evening the American Petroleum Institute (API) reported that crude inventories fell by about 1.05 million barrels in the week ending February 2. Gasoline inventories dropped by 227,000 barrels and distillate stockpiles jumped by about 4.55 million barrels. For the same period, analysts polled had consensus estimates for an increase of 3.19 million barrels in crude inventories, a rise of about 460,000 barrels in gasoline and a decrease of 1.42 million barrels in distillate stockpiles.

Total gasoline inventories increased by 3.4 million barrels last week, according to the EIA, and are now in the middle of the five-year average range. U.S. refineries produced about 10.1 million barrels of gasoline a day last week, up by about 500,000 barrels a day compared to the prior week. Total motor gasoline supplied (the agency’s proxy for demand) averaged 8.9 million barrels a day for the past four weeks, up about 6.5% compared with the same period a year ago.

Before the EIA report, benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude for March delivery traded up about 0.5% at around $63.67 a barrel, and it tumbled to around $63.15 after the report’s release. WTI settled at $63.39 on Tuesday and opened at $63.92 Wednesday morning. The 52-week range on March futures was $43.91 to $66.66.

U.S. crude oil production exploded to 10.25 million barrels a day last week, and virtually every forecast is for that number to remain at or above 10 million for most of the year. Last week’s big builds were the result of higher production and fewer exports. The crude and the refined products had to go somewhere, so the barrels went into storage. Whether this is a blip or the beginning of a longer term decline in crude prices is still an open question.

Week over week, U.S. crude oil exports fell by 478,000 barrels a day last week, and U.S. production increased by a whopping 332,000 barrels a day to 10.25 million barrels a day. Exports averaged 1.29 million barrels a day last week and have a cumulative daily average for the year of 1.38 million barrels a day, a 121% increase over the year-ago export total.

Distillate inventories increased by 3.9 million barrels last week and remained in the middle of the average range for this time of year. Distillate product supplied averaged 4.2 million barrels a day for the past four weeks, up by 8.9% compared with the same period last year. Distillate production averaged over 5.1 million barrels a day last week, up about 500,000 compared to the prior week’s production.

For the past week, crude imports averaged 7.9 million barrels a day, down by 500,000 compared with the previous week. Refineries were running at 92.5% of capacity, with daily input averaging 16.8 million barrels a day, about 784,000 more than the previous week’s average. Exports of refined products fell by 449,000 barrels a day last week to 4.44 million.

According to AAA, the current national average pump price per gallon of regular gasoline is $2.605, up 1.4 cents from $2.591 a week ago and more than 11 cents per gallon higher than the month-ago price. Last year at this time, a gallon of regular gasoline cost $2.266 on average in the United States.

Here is a look at how share prices for two blue-chip stocks and two exchange traded funds reacted to this latest report.

Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) trade about flat at $78.36, in a 52-week range of $76.05 to $89.30. Over the past 12 months, Exxon stock has traded down about 3.5%.

Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) traded up about 0.3%, at $117.53 in a 52-week range of $102.55 to $133.88. As of last night’s close, Chevron shares are trading up about 12.5% over the past year.

The United States Oil ETF (NYSEARCA: USO) traded down about 1.4% to $12.52. The 52-week range is $8.65 to $13.30.

The VanEck Vectors Oil Services ETF (NYSEAMERICAN: OIH) traded up about 0.1%, at $26.23 in a 52-week range of $21.70 to $33.74.