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  • bluecheese4u bluecheese4u Sep 26, 2007 10:32 AM Flag

    Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending September 21, 2007

    Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending September 21, 2007

    U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged 15.0 million barrels per day during the
    week ending September 21, down 339,000 barrels per day from the previous week's
    average. Refineries operated at 86.9 percent of their operable capacity last
    week. Gasoline production fell compared to the previous week, averaging 8.7
    million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production rose last week, averaging
    4.1 million barrels per day.

    U.S. crude oil imports averaged 10.4 million barrels per day last week, up
    637,000 barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks,
    crude oil imports have averaged 10.0 million barrels per day, or 644,000 barrels
    per day less than averaged over the same four-week period last year. Total
    motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending
    components) last week averaged 1,052,000 barrels per day. Distillate fuel
    imports averaged 314,000 barrels per day last week.

    U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic
    Petroleum Reserve) rose by 1.8 million barrels compared to the previous week.
    However, at 320.6 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are above the
    upper end of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline
    inventories increased by 0.6 million barrels last week, and are well below the
    lower end of the average range. Finished gasoline fell last week while gasoline
    blending components rose. Distillate fuel inventories increased by 1.6 million
    barrels, and are in the upper half of the average range for this time of year.
    Propane/propylene inventories increased 0.8 million barrels last week. Total
    commercial petroleum inventories increased by 4.2 million barrels last week,
    but are in the middle of the average range for this time of year.

    Total products supplied over the last four-week period has averaged nearly 20.7
    million barrels per day, or relatively the same compared to the similar period
    last year. Over the last four weeks, motor gasoline demand has averaged nearly
    9.4 million barrels per day, or 0.4 percent above the same period last year.
    Distillate fuel demand has averaged nearly 4.1 million barrels per day over the
    last four weeks, down 1.2 percent compared to the same period last year. Jet
    fuel demand is down 1.9 percent over the last four weeks compared to the same
    four-week period last year.

    The tables that follow display the latest U.S. Petroleum Balance Sheet and the
    most recent 4 weeks of Weekly Petroleum Status Report data.

    Table 1. U.S. Petroleum Balance Sheet, 4 Weeks Ending 09/21/2007

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    • "This Week In Petroleum"

      Retractable Roofs
      Many new sports stadiums, especially those located in less than ideal climates, have retractable roofs that are opened or closed depending on weather conditions. An analogous mechanism may be at work in oil markets. Since early 2002, oil prices have shown a strong upward trend (see chart below). Although one or more factors have put a temporary ceiling on oil prices during some periods, oil prices then continued their upward trend, as if a retractable roof had opened.

      In the past, factors such as warmer than normal weather during the peak winter months, and the absence of infrastructure damage due to hurricanes, have helped to keep a lid on oil prices, and even contributed to a decline in prices. More recently, a major factor keeping the price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil from reaching $80 per barrel and beyond was concern that the U.S. economy was vulnerable to a significant downturn. This concern was centered on the housing sector, particularly regarding sub-prime mortgages and related problems associated with the financial sector. However, following the Federal Reserve�s decision on September 18 to lower the federal funds rate by 0.5 percentage points, housing and other U.S. economic concerns lessened, while the price of light, sweet crude for the near-month contract on the New York Mercantile EXchange (NYMEX) reached a new nominal record. Prices continued to increase over the next few days, as the market continued to perceive an improvement in the outlook of the U.S. economy, and thus, stronger U.S. oil demand growth. In essence, while other factors contributed to a significantly tighter short-run outlook, lowering interest rates was like opening a retractable roof, allowing prices to climb higher.

      So, what factors might arise in the future that could again put a ceiling on near-term oil prices? A significant increase in U.S. crude oil inventories (which dropped more than 18.3 million barrels in the four weeks between August 17 and September 14) as a result of an increase in imports (and not due to a sharp downturn in refinery throughputs), is one such factor. Another would be the passing of the current hurricane season with no significant damage to petroleum infrastructure. Additionally, if the winter begins with significantly warmer-than-normal weather, particularly in the Northeast, where most heating oil is used, the market would expect oil demand growth to be weaker over the winter period, notwithstanding any strength in the U.S. economy.

      From a longer-term perspective, the factors that would keep a roof over oil prices for an extended period of time include improved access to resources, additional upstream and downstream capacity, a stronger, if delayed, demand response to recent price increases, or a prolonged weakening of global economic growth.

      Retail Gasoline and Diesel Prices Higher
      The U.S. average retail price for regular gasoline increased 2.5 cents last week to 281.2 cents per gallon as of September 24, 2007, 43.4 cents higher than last year. All regions gained except in the Rocky Mountains where retail regular gasoline prices fell by 0.7 cent to 281.7 cents per gallon. The East Coast tallied a 3.7-cent increase, landing at 276.9 cents per gallon. Midwest prices inched up by 0.2 cent to 286.1 cents per gallon, 65.4 cents per gallon above last year. Prices for the Gulf Coast rose 2.6 cents to settle at 270.5 cents per gallon, the lowest regional price. West Coast prices jumped 4.9 cents to 290.9 cents per gallon, the highest in the country. The average price for regular grade in California was 296.1 cents per gallon, up 5.7 cents from last week and 20.1 cents per gallon over the previous year.

      Topping the $3 mark for the

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