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 0.8 million barrels to a total of 354.2 million barrels. At 354.2 million barrels, inventories are 10.5 million barrels above last year (3.1%) and remain above average. Supply at NYMEX delivery point, Cushing, Oklahoma decreased some 700,000 barrels to 37.0 million barrels this week. Supplies at Cushing have decreased for the just the second time in a month but remain above healthy levels.

Gasoline inventories decreased 0.1 million barrels to 223.3 million barrels. At 223.3 million barrels, inventories are now 13.6 million barrels, or 6.5% higher than last year (last week that number was 4.8% higher). Decreases in gasoline inventories were seen in the Midwest (-0.2mb), on the Gulf Coast (-0.8mb), and the Rockies (-0.2mb). The East Coast posted a gain (0.6mb) last week, along with the West Coast (0.5mb).

Distillate inventories increased by 1.1 million barrels to a total of 174.2 million barrels. At 174.2 million barrels, inventories are 12.6% higher than a year ago (A week ago that number was 6.7%). Demand for distillate fuel (diesel, industrial fuels) is up an average of 5.8% over the last four weeks (last week the number was 2.7%). Distillate inventories are now 12.6 million barrels above their year ago level.

Refinery utilization increased to 90.0%, a rise of 1.9% over last week's numbers. Gasoline production increased last week to 9.4 million barrels per day while distillate fuel production averaged 4.2 million barrels per day, a decrease over the prior week.

Refineries in the Midwest again operated at the highest utilization- some 95.4% of capacity. Refiners on the Gulf Coast came in second at 92.8%. Refiners on the West Coast remained the lowest once again and were down 0.8%, again running the lowest percent of available capacity at just 77.2%. The West Coast utilization number is the lowest since the DOE began reporting, contributing to high gas prices in the West.

Production of fuel ethanol, a key ingredient in gasoline- decreased to 860,000 barrels per day- an drop of just 6,000bpd.

Total oil stocks in the United States are now up 21.6 million barrels (2.0%) over last year and stand at 1.1304 billion barrels (excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve).