Oil Inventories Rise Slightly But Still No Signs Of Glut

The latest petroleum status report has been released by the Energy Information Administration and it shows the continuation of many of the same trends that I have reported on previously in this column. Despite the media hype to the contrary, the balance between the supply of oil and the demand for it is actually tighter than it was last year.  However, the price action in the markets is essentially showing that the opposite is true.

At the end of the week ended November 14, the nation’s commercial inventories of crude oil contained 381.1 million barrels of oil. This is a slight increase from the previous week’s level of 378.5 million barrels. However, as has been the case for several weeks now, it is significantly lower than the amount of oil that was in the same commercial inventories at the same time last year. At the end of the corresponding week last year, these inventories contained 388.5 million barrels of oil.  Thus, inventories contained approximately 1.94% more oil last year.

The nation’s gasoline inventories also increased week-over-week, continuing last week’s trend.  At the end of the week ended November 14, the nation’s gasoline inventories contained a total of 204.6 million barrels of gasoline compared to 203.6 million barrels at the end of the previous week.  This is still much lower than the amount of gasoline that was contained in these same inventories at the end of the corresponding week last year.  At the end of that week, gasoline inventories contained 208.9 million barrels. Despite the week-over-week increase, there are no signs of a gasoline supply glut as these are historically average numbers for this time of year.

One possible reason for the increase in gasoline inventories is that refineries produced more of it during the week. During the four-week period that ended November 14, 2014, an average of 9.057 million barrels of gasoline was supplied to the market every day. This is a slight increase from the 8.968 million barrels supplied per day during the four-week period ended the previous week. However, there was still less gasoline supplied during the most recent four-week period than during the corresponding period of last year.

As might be expected, one reason for the increase in gasoline production is that the amount of oil sent to and processed by refineries also increased.  During the week ended November 14, the nation’s refineries ran at 89.1% capacity and processed an average of 15.57 million barrels of crude oil per day. This represents an increase of 1.14% from the previous week’s level. It also represents an increase over last year’s level, which has been a regular occurrence over the past several weeks.

As inventories are lower than they were last year, there continues to be no sign of a glut of the sort that would normally cause a decline in oil prices like we have seen in the past few months.

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