Rising for the third week in a row after a long string of weekly declines, crude oil inventories were up 1.8 million barrels in the February 9 week to 422.1 million, 18.5 percent below the level a year ago. Gasoline inventories also rose again and were up 3.6 million barrels from the prior week at 249.1 million, 3.9 percent less than last year at this time, while inventories of distillates fell 0.5 million barrels to 141.4 million, down 16.9 percent year-on-year. The weekly increase in crude oil inventories was smaller than the 3.9 million build reported Tuesday by the American Petroleum Institute (API), a private industry group. WTI prices, which fell earlier on the back of the large API build, jumped about a $1.00 higher to around $59.60 per barrel after the release of the EIA report.
Refineries slowed down to operate at 89.8 percent of their operable capacity, down 3.7 percentage points from the prior week. Production also decreased during the week, with gasoline averaging 9.6 million barrels per day and distillates 4.8 million barrels per day.
Crude oil imports fell marginally to 7.9 million barrels per day during the week, keeping the average over the last four weeks at about 8.1 million barrels, 5.0 percent less than in the same period last year.
Demand remains strong, with total products supplied averaging 20.7 million barrels per day over the last four weeks, up 6.9 percent from the same period last year. Of this amount, motor gasoline supplied averaged 9.0 million barrels per day, 6.5 percent more than last year, while distillates supplied averaged over 4.0 million barrels per day, up 6.3 percent year-on-year.
Rising domestic oil production, averaging about 10.1 million barrels a day over the last four weeks and up 12.5 percent year-on-year, has in recent weeks more than made up for the 5.0 percent year-on-year decline in crude oil imports. But whether production continues to rise probably depends on the price of crude oil, under pressure recently, remaining well above breakeven costs.