The Energy Information Administration released its weekly report on the condition of petroleum inventories in the United States today.

Here are some highlights:

CRUDE INVENTORIES:
Crude oil inventories decreased by 0.2 million barrels to a total of 339.1 million barrels. At 339.1 million barrels, inventories are 6.8 million barrels below last year (-2.0%) and are in the upper limit of the average range.

GASOLINE INVENTORIES:
Gasoline inventories increased by 0.4 million barrels to 232.2 million barrels. At 232.2 million barrels, inventories are 8.9 million barrels, or 3.7% lower than last year. Here's how individual regions and their gasoline inventory fared last week: East Coast (-0.7mb); Midwest (+0.8mb); Gulf Coast (+0.6mb); Rockies (-0.1mb); and West Coast (-0.2mb). It is important to note which regions saw increases/decreases as this information likely drives prices up (in the case of falling inventories), or down (in the case of rising inventories).

DISTILLATE (diesel, heating oil) INVENTORIES:
Distillate inventories decreased by 2.9 million barrels to a total of 143.7 million barrels. At 143.7 million barrels, inventories are now 10.9% lower than a year ago. Total distillate inventories stand 17.6 million barrels lower than their year ago level.

REFINERY OUTPUT/UTILIZATION:
Refinery utilization rose to 84.0%, a change of 1.2% vs. last week's numbers. Gasoline production decreased slightly last week averaging 8.8 million barrels per day while distillate fuel production decreased, averaging 4.4 million barrels per day.

Utilization rates for the last week were as follows: East Coast: 56.8%, Midwest: 93.0%, Gulf Coast: 86.7%, Rocky Mountain: 91.7%, West Coast: 78.5%. These percentages show how much of a region's overall capacity were used to refine oil. It is important to note these percentages, because the lower the utilization percent, the lower output, which has a direct impact on local gasoline prices. If refiners in your region have low output, your more likely to see prices rise.

OVERALL SUPPLY:
Total oil stocks in the United States are down 14.0 million barrels (-1.3%) over last year and stand at 1.0557 billion barrels (excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve).

IMPORTS/EXPORTS:
The U.S. imported 715,000 barrels per day of gasoline and 111,000bpd of distillate fuels. However, during the same time frame, the U.S. exported 626,000bpd of gasoline and 996,000bpd (million barrels per day) of distillates. In total, U.S. refineries exported 2.92 million barrels per DAY of oil and products! (These are four week rolling averages)

COMMENTS:
Refineries in the Midwest continue to chug along and kick out product, resulting in large discounts vs. other regions, so Great Lakes areas may continue to see lower prices as gasoline supply remains plentiful- however- when supply begins dropping there, expect big price hikes. Overall, it wouldn't surprise me to see gasoline inventories begin dropping at a quicker pace in the next month as refiners move winter-spec fuel ahead of the switch over to summer gasoline.