Posted in: Infrastructure,
by Patrick DeHaan on Mar 31, 2010 11:53 AM
The Department of Energy released its weekly report on the condition of petroleum inventories in the United States today.
Here are some highlights:
Crude oil inventories increased by 2.9 million barrels to a total of 354.2 million barrels. At 354.2 million barrels, inventories are 2.6% lower than last year, but remain well above average.
Gasoline inventories increased by 300,000 barrels to a total of 224.9 million barrels. At 224.9 million barrels, inventories are 3.9% higher than last year, but still lower than they were in 2008.
Distillate inventories decreased by 1.1 million barrels to a total of 144.6 million barrels. At 144.6 million barrels, inventories are just 0.3% higher than a year ago. While this may seem good, distillate inventories have decreased for almost a year straight, from a peak of 172 million barrels last October to today's 144.6 million barrels. This could signify a growing economy as distillates are used in construction and trucking industries.
Refinery utilization jumped to 82.6%, perhaps signaling that refiners are beginning to increase production of fuels ahead of the summer driving season. It also could be a result of Marathon's newly expanded plant coming back online to near full rates.
Oil and gasoline futures were trading higher before the report but have given up most of those gains and are holding on to much smaller gains.
Aside from petroleum an amazing story continues to be how natural gas prices have dropped to near record lows just a few years after hitting a peak. Natural gas futures have traded under $4 for the first time in years, perhaps signifying weak demand in plenty of gas in storage.
While the DOE report was relatively good, I don't expect prices to rise or fall. I believe there are more pressing issues on the market (such as the U.S. dollar and other reports) that will fuel prices.