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 3.0 million barrels to a total of 355.0 million barrels. At 355.0 million barrels, inventories are 3.0 million barrels above last year (0.8%) and remain above average. Supply at NYMEX delivery point, Cushing, Oklahoma increased some 100,000 barrels to 37.7 million barrels this week. Supplies at Cushing have decreased for the first time in over a month.

Gasoline inventories increased 0.4 million barrels to 223.4 million barrels. At 223.4 million barrels, inventories are now 11.5 million barrels, or 5.4% higher than last year (last week that number was 4.8% higher). Decreases in gasoline inventories were seen on the East Coast (-0.2mb) and the Gulf Coast (-0.8mb). The West Coast posted a gain (0.8mb) last week, along with the Midwest (1.0mb).

Distillate inventories increased by 3.5 million barrels to a total of 173.1 million barrels. At 173.1 million barrels, inventories are 6.7% higher than a year ago (A week ago that number was 5.1%). Demand for distillate fuel (diesel, industrial fuels) is up an average of 3.6% over the last four weeks (last week the number was 2.7%). Distillate inventories are now 10.9 million barrels above their year ago level.

Refinery utilization decreased quite a bit to 88.1%, a fall of 3.1% over last week's numbers. Gasoline production decreased last week to 9.3 million barrels per day while distillate fuel production averaged 4.3 million barrels per day, a decrease over the prior week.

Refineries in the Midwest operated at the highest utilization- some 93.3% of capacity. Refiners on the Gulf Coast came in second at 91.3%. Refiners on the West Coast remained the lowest once again and were down 3.1%, again running the lowest percent of available capacity at just 78.0%. The West Coast utilization number is the lowest since the DOE began reporting, contributing to high gas prices in the West. A huge decrease in utilization this week occurred on the East Coast as refiners utilized just 79.7% of their capacity, a drop of 12% as margins for refining drop to poor levels.

Production of fuel ethanol, a key ingredient in gasoline- decreased to 866,000 barrels per day- an drop of just 7,000bpd.

Total oil stocks in the United States are now up 3.5 million barrels (0.3%) over last year and stand at 1.1215 billion barrels (excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve).