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Crude Oil Supply Report Sends Price Tumbling

Paul Ausick

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its weekly petroleum status report Wednesday morning. U.S. commercial crude inventories increased by 2.6 million barrels last week, maintaining a total U.S. commercial crude inventory to 358.3 million barrels. That is close to the upper end of the five-year range for this time of the year.

Total gasoline inventories also increased by 200,000 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 8.9 million barrels a day over the past four weeks, flat with the prior week average.

Distillate inventories fell by 200,000 barrels last week and remain near the lower limit of the average range. Distillate product supplied averaged 3.7 million barrels a day over the past four weeks, up by 7.8% when compared with the same period last year. Distillate production totaled about 4.8 million barrels a day last week, about 300,000 barrels a day less than the prior week.

The American Petroleum Institute last night reported that crude inventories fell by 54,000 barrels last week, together with a rise of 341,000 barrels in gasoline supplies and an increase of 485,000 barrels in distillate supplies. Platts estimated a drop of 1.5 million barrels in crude inventories, a decline of 1.5 million barrels in gasoline inventories and a decrease of 1 million barrels in distillate inventories.

Crude prices were trading higher before the EIA report at around $103.45 a barrel and slipped to around $103.30 shortly after the report was released.

For the past week, crude imports averaged about 7.9 million barrels a day, up about 346,000 barrels a day from the previous week. Refineries were running at 90.3% of capacity, with daily input of 15.6 million barrels a day, about 500,000 barrels a day lower than the previous week’s total.

The much larger-than-expected increase in crude oil inventories will weigh on crude prices today. Prices have been slipping ever since the situation in Syria moved out of the headlines and into a negotiating room. Refining throughput dropped last week as refineries prepare for making winter fuel, and that likely accounts for the steep growth in inventories. There does not appear to be any constraint on U.S. gasoline supplies however.

Gasoline prices slipped this week. According to the AAA Fuel Gauge report, a gallon of regular gasoline costs about $3.45 today, compared with about $3.51 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 $3.81.

The United States Oil ETF (USO) is down 0.3%, at $37.10 in a 52-week range of $30.79 to $39.54.

The United States Gasoline ETF (UGA) is up about 1.4%, at $57.24, in a 52-week range of $53.35 to $65.86.

The United States Brent Oil ETF (BNO) is up 0.5%, at $42.79 in a 52-week range of $36.88 to $45.05.