Crude oil inventories fell by a sharp 6.5 million barrels in the August 4 week to 475.4 million, 3.6 percent below the level a year ago. Product inventories were mixed, with gasoline rising 3.4 million barrels to 231.1 million, down 1.8 percent year-on-year, but distillates falling 1.7 million barrels to 147.7 million, 2.3 percent below the year ago level. The drawdown in crude oil exceeded most forecasts by analysts, who expected a decline of around 2.5 million barrels, though it was less than the sharp drop reported to subscribers yesterday afternoon by the American Petroleum Institute, a private industry group, showing a 7.8 million barrel decline for the week. WTI crude oil prices fell about 20 cents to around $49.20 per barrel immediately following the release of the EIA report.
Crude oil imports fell by 491,000 barrels per day in the week to an average of 7.8 million barrels per day. Over the last 4 weeks, imports averaged about 8.0 million barrels per day, 4.9 percent below the level a year ago.
Refineries continued ratcheting up production, operating at 96.3 percent of their operating capacity, up 0.9 percentage points from a week ago. Gasoline production rose to an average of 10.3 million barrels per day, while production of distillates rose to an average of 5.3 million barrels per day.
The demand side continued to firm, with total products supplied over the last 4 weeks averaging 21.2 million barrels per day, up 2.3 percent from the same period last year. But gasoline supplied, averaging about 9.8 million barrels per day and down 0.1 percent from the year ago level, indicates stagnant conditions as increased fuel efficiency, alternate energy or other fuel usage and lower mileage driven per vehicle dampen consumption. Distillate fuel product supplied continues to climb, however, averaging 4.3 million barrels, up 13.3 percent from the same period last year.