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 4.1 million barrels to a total of 361.7 million barrels. At 361.7 million barrels, inventories are 18.3 million barrels above last year (5.3%) and remain above average. Supply at NYMEX delivery point, Cushing, Oklahoma decreased some 600,000 barrels to 36.3 million barrels this week. Supplies at Cushing have decreased for the last four consecutive weeks but remain at good levels.

Gasoline inventories decreased 0.2 million barrels to 225.4 million barrels. At 225.4 million barrels, inventories are now 20.3 million barrels, or 9.9% higher than last year (last week that number was 8.4% higher). Decreases in gasoline inventories were seen in the Midwest (-0.2mb), the Gulf Coast (-0.8mb), and the West Coast (-0.5mb). The East Coast was the only region to post a gain (1.3mb) last week.

Distillate inventories decreased by 0.7 million barrels to a total of 175.2 million barrels. At 175.2 million barrels, inventories are 7.1% higher than a year ago. Demand for distillate fuel (diesel, industrial fuels) is up an average of 7.8% over the last four weeks (last week the number was 4.9%). Distillate inventories are now 7.1 million barrels above their year ago level.

Refinery utilization decreased to 87.0%, a fall of 0.7% 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 again operated at the highest utilization- some 92.6% of capacity. Refiners on the Gulf Coast came in second at 87.0% while refiners in the Rockies came in third with 86.7%. Refiners on the West Coast remained the lowest once again but were up 1.9%, but still running the lowest percent of available capacity at just 81.7%. The West Coast utilization number has been the lowest of any other area for a majority of the summer.

Production of fuel ethanol, a key ingredient in gasoline- increased to 856,000 barrels per day- a rise of 21,000bpd. The price of wholesale ethanol is now higher than gasoline, something that has been happening just the last week or so.

Total oil stocks in the United States are now up 42.2 million barrels (3.8%) over last year and stand at 1.1433 billion barrels (excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve).