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Refineries Ramp Up Production While Crude and Gasoline Supply Shrinks

Paul Ausick

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its weekly petroleum status report this morning. U.S. commercial crude inventories decreased by 1.4 million barrels last week, maintaining a total U.S. commercial crude inventory to 359.1 million barrels, and remaining near the upper limit of the five-year range for this time of the year.

Total gasoline inventories decreased by 4 million barrels last week and are now 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 2% from the same period a year ago.

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Distillate inventories rose by 900,000 barrels last week and remain near the lower limit of the average range. Distillate product supplied averaged about 3.8 million barrels a day over the past four weeks, up about 2.8% 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 fell by 1.2 million barrels last week, together with a decline of 3.7 million barrels in gasoline supplies and a rise of 1.8 barrels in distillate supplies. Platts estimated a drop of 1 million barrels in crude inventories, a drop of 1.5 million barrels in gasoline inventories, and an increase of 1 million barrels in distillate inventories.

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Crude prices were down slightly before the EIA report at around $104.70 a barrel and fell further to around $104.60 shortly after the report was released.

For the past week, crude imports averaged about 8 million barrels a day, up about 34,000 barrels a day from the previous week. Refineries were running at 91% of capacity, with daily input of 15.8 million barrels a day, about 200,000 barrels a day more than the previous week.

This marks the eighth straight week of declines in crude stockpiles, yet inventories remain quite high and gasoline supply continues to be plentiful. Refinery throughput is up by about 200,000 barrels a day as refiners continue to grow their exports. As refiners begin to switch to winter fuel blends, inventories likely will continue to fall.

Gasoline prices continue to decline nationally. According to the AAA Fuel Gauge report, a gallon of regular gasoline costs about $3.53 today compared with about $3.54 a week ago. Last month the price was $3.67 a gallon and one year ago the price of a gallon of regular gasoline was $3.72.

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The United States Oil ETF (USO) is down 0.16%, at $37.45 in a 52-week range of $30.79 to $38.62.

The United States Gasoline ETF (UGA) is up about 0.4%, at $60.40, in a 52-week range of $53.35 to $65.86.

The United States Brent Oil ETF (BNO) is down 0.3%, at $84.68 in a 52-week range of $73.76 to $88.71.

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