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 decreased by 2.8 million barrels to a total of 358.0 million barrels. At 358.0 million barrels, inventories are 8.5 million barrels above last year (2.4%) and remain above average. Supply at NYMEX delivery point, Cushing, Oklahoma increased some 600,000 barrels to 37.8 million barrels this week. Supplies at Cushing have increased for the fourth time in a row, and are in record territory once again.

Gasoline inventories increased 0.7 million barrels to 223.0 million barrels. At 223.0 million barrels, inventories are now 10.1 million barrels, or 4.8% higher than last year (last week that number was 4.3% higher). Decreases in gasoline inventories were seen on the West Coast (-0.3mb) and the Rockies (-0.4mb). The Gulf Coast posted a gain (0.8mb) last week, along with the Midwest (0.3mb) and East Coast (0.3mb).

Distillate inventories increased by 2.2 million barrels to a total of 169.7 million barrels. At 169.7 million barrels, inventories are 5.1% higher than a year ago (A week ago that number was 3.0%). Demand for distillate fuel (diesel, industrial fuels) is up an average of 2.7% over the last four weeks (last week the number was 9.3%). Distillate inventories are now 8.2 million barrels above their year ago level.

Refinery utilization increased slightly to 91.2%, a rise of 0.6% over last week's numbers. Gasoline production decreased last week to 9.4 million barrels per day while distillate fuel production averaged 4.4 million barrels per day, an increase over the prior week.

Refineries in the Midwest operated at the highest utilization- some 94.2% of capacity. Refiners on the Gulf Coast came in second at 93.8%. Refiners on the West Coast remained the lowest once again and were down 1.8%, again running the lowest percent of available capacity at just 81.1%. Since the DOE began monitoring districts for utilization, I've not seen the West Coast run over 90% utilization while all other areas have.

Production of fuel ethanol, a key ingredient in gasoline in much of the U.S. was 873,000 barrels per day, an increase of 57,000bbls/day.

Total oil stocks in the United States are now up 4.5 million barrels (0.4%) over last year and stand at 1.1249 billion barrels (excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve).

First of all, distillate demand is finally calming down as you'll notice. The double digit demand increases over last year have ebbed. Also another important piece here was that overall inventories are now ahead of their year ago levels by close to 5 million barrels. That represents a turnaround of 8 million barrels since last week- a noteworthy shift.