Crude Oil Supply Tumbles

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The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its weekly petroleum status report this morning. U.S. commercial crude inventories decreased by 4.4 million barrels last week, bringing a total U.S. commercial crude inventory to 355.6 million barrels. They are now close to the middle of the five-year range for this time of the year.

Total gasoline inventories also decreased by 1.6 million 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 8.9 million barrels a day over the past four weeks, down by 100,000 barrels a day from the prior week average.

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Distillate inventories fell by 1.1 million barrels last week and remain near the lower limit of the average range. Distillate product supplied averaged 3.8 million barrels a day over the past four weeks, up by 10.8% when compared with the same period last year. Distillate production totaled about 5.1 million barrels a day last week, about 100,000 barrels a day more than the prior week.

The American Petroleum Institute last night reported that crude inventories fell by 300,000 barrels last week, together with a drop of 600,000 barrels in gasoline supplies and a decline of 200,000 barrels in distillate supplies. Platts estimated a drop of 1.5 million barrels in crude inventories, no change in gasoline inventories and an increase of a million barrels in distillate inventories.

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Crude prices were trading higher before the EIA report at around $105.70 a barrel and rose to around $106.10 shortly after the report was released.

For the past week, crude imports averaged about 7.6 million barrels a day, down about 439,000 barrels a day from the previous week. Refineries were running at 92.5% of capacity, with daily input of 16.1 million barrels a day, about 200,000 barrels a day higher than the previous week’s total.

The sharp drop in crude inventories came as refineries increased throughput, but that does not account for the entire difference. Reduced imports would seem to be the main driver of the lower inventories. A drop of 100,000 barrels a day in product supplied indicates that gasoline supplies remain plentiful. What we could be seeing here is another manifestation of the drop in U.S. demand and how producers and refiners are responding to that drop.

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Gasoline prices slipped this week. According to the AAA Fuel Gauge report, a gallon of regular gasoline costs about $3.51 today, compared with about $3.56 a week ago. Last month the price was $3.54 a gallon, and one year ago the price of a gallon of regular gasoline was $3.86.

The United States Oil ETF (USO) is up 0.7%, at $38.02 in a 52-week range of $30.79 to $39.54.

The United States Gasoline ETF (UGA) is up about 0.9%, at $56.99, in a 52-week range of $53.35 to $65.86.

The United States Brent Oil ETF (BNO) is up 0.7%, at $42.46 in a 52-week range of $36.88 to $45.05. The annual high was also set last week.

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