Crude oil inventories rose 1.6 million barrels in the March 23 week to 429.9 million, 19.5 percent below their level a year ago. But product inventories fell, with gasoline down 3.5 million barrels to 239.6 million, 0.1 percent below last year at this time and distillates down 2.1 million barrels to 129.0 million, 15.7 percent lower than a year ago. The EIA build in crude oil inventories was substantially smaller than the 5.3 million barrel build reported Tuesday afternoon by the American Petroleum Institute (API), a private industry group, but the EIA's gasoline drawdown was similarly smaller than the API's 5.8 million barrel draw. WTI prices, which fell earlier under the weight of the API data, briefly jumped up about 60 cents to $65.00 per barrel immediately following the release of the EIA report but quickly fell back to pre-release levels.
Refineries operated at 92.3 percent of their operable capacity during the week, up 0.6 percentage points from the prior week. Gasoline production increased, averaging 10.3 million barrels per day, as did the production of distillates, which averaged 4.8 million barrels per day.
Breaking a string of declines, imports of crude oil increased by 1.1 million barrels per day during the week to an average of 8.1 million barrels per day. The 4-week average of crude oil imports increased to 7.7 million barrels per day, 4.0 percent less than in the same period last year.
Domestic crude oil production over the last four weeks averaged 10.4 million barrels per day, up a sharp 14.0 percent the level a year ago.
Overall product demand continues to rise, with total product supplied over the last four weeks averaging 20.7 million barrels per day, up 5.7 percent from the same period last year. But demand for the main product categories is lagging, with motor gasoline supplied rising slightly to an average of 9.4 million barrels per day, though the year-on-year gain shrank to 0.5 percent, while distillates supplied rose marginally to 4.0 million barrels per day, down 4.1 percent from the same period last year.