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 1.9 million barrels to a total of 359.9 million barrels. At 359.9 million barrels, inventories are 22.4 million barrels above last year (6.6%) and remain above average. Supply at NYMEX delivery point, Cushing, Oklahoma decreased some 300,000 barrels to 35.5 million barrels this week. Supplies at Cushing have decreased for the last five consecutive weeks.

Gasoline inventories decreased 0.2 million barrels to 225.2 million barrels. At 225.2 million barrels, inventories are now 18.0 million barrels, or 8.7% higher than last year (last week that number was 9.9% higher). Decreases in gasoline inventories were seen on the East Coast (-1.6mb) and the Gulf Coast (-0.2mb). Increases in inventories were seen on th West Coast (+0.9mb), Midwest (+0.2mb), and Rockies (+0.4mb).

Distillate inventories decreased by 0.4 million barrels to a total of 174.8 million barrels. At 174.8 million barrels, inventories are 5.6% higher than a year ago. Demand for distillate fuel (diesel, industrial fuels) is up an average of 9.4% over the last four weeks (last week the number was 7.8%). Distillate inventories are now 9.3 million barrels above their year ago level.

Refinery utilization increased to 88.3%, a rise of 1.2% over last week's numbers. Gasoline production increased last week to 9.5 million barrels per day while distillate fuel production averaged 4.3 million barrels per day, no change over the prior week.

Refineries on the Gulf Coast overtook refineries in the Midwest for operating at the highest utilization- some 91.9% of capacity. Refiners in the Midwest came in second at 89.5% while refiners in the Rockies came in third with 88.5%. Refiners on the West Coast remained the lowest once again and were down 2.3% over last week. West Coast refiners are still running the lowest percent of available capacity at just 79.4%. 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 875,000 barrels per day- a rise of 19,000bpd. The price of wholesale ethanol remains higher than gasoline, something that has been happening just the last week or so.

Total oil stocks in the United States are now up 47.5 million barrels (4.3%) over last year and stand at 1.1435 billion barrels (excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve).