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Oil Markets Panic After EIA Reports Surging Gasoline Inventories

Oil Tanker

Commercial crude oil stockpiles in the U.S. fell by 2.3 million barrels in the week to July 15, the Energy Information Administration reported. This is a rare perfect match with API figures, which this week included numbers largely in line with expectations, with a 2.3-million-barrel draw. The total tally was 519.5 million barrels, excluding strategic inventories, an unusually high amount for this time of year.

Even though crude inventories shrunk, gasoline inventories showed a larger build than had been anticipated, increasing 911,000 barrels, while a draw of 500,000 barrels was expected. Distillate stockpiles were 200,000 barrels lower than in the previous week but are still above the average for the season.

Refinery inputs in the country over the seven-day reporting period averaged 16.9 million barrels a day, compared with 16.5 million barrels a day in the previous week, when refineries operated at 92.3 percent of capacity. Last week, the utilization rate was 93.2 percent.

Imports of crude oil into the U.S. exceeded 8.1 million bpd in the seven days to July 15, up 293,000 bpd from 7.8 million barrels in the previous week, which itself represented an over half a million barrel weekly draw.

Last week the EIA reported a 2.5-million-barrel reduction in U.S. crude oil inventories, once again in contraction with American Petroleum Institute (API) figures yesterday, indicating an inventory increase of 2.2 million barrels. Analysts expectations had been for a 3-million-barrel draw, so when the API reported a 2.2-million-barrel move in the opposite direction, the markets responded, sending crude oil prices downward again.

At the time of writing, Brent crude traded at US$46.20 a barrel, down 1 percent, and WTI was changing hands at US$43.97, down 1.52 percent.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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