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 0.7 million barrels to a total of 361.2 million barrels. At 361.2 million barrels, inventories are 22.1 million barrels above last year (6.5%) and remain above average. Supply at NYMEX delivery point, Cushing, Oklahoma decreased 1.1 million barrels to 34.0 million barrels this week.

Gasoline inventories increased 1.2 million barrels to 219.3 million barrels. At 219.3 million barrels, inventories are now 12.4 million barrels, or 6.0% higher than last year (last week that number was 4.3% higher). Decreases were seen on the East Coast (-0.5mb) and the West Coast (-0.8mb). Increases in inventories were seen in the Midwest (+1.3mb), the Gulf Coast (+1.1mb), and the Rockies (+0.1mb).

Distillate inventories decreased by 2.2 million barrels to a total of 170.1 million barrels. At 170.1 million barrels, inventories are just 0.1% higher than a year ago. Demand for distillate fuel (diesel, industrial fuels) is up an average of 9.3% over the last four weeks (last week the number was 8.8%). Distillate inventories are now 0.2 million barrels above their year ago level.

Refinery utilization decreased to 82.5%, a fall of 0.6% vs. last week's numbers. This is likely due to refiners undergoing maintenance before the winter heating season. Gasoline production increased last week to 9.0 million barrels per day while distillate fuel production averaged 4.2 million barrels per day, no change over the prior week.

Refineries on the Gulf Coast operated at the highest utilization- some 86.2% of capacity. Refiners in the Midwest came in second at 86.1% while refiners in the Rockies came in third with 82.4%. East Coast refiners took the position of utilizing the lowest percentage of their plants again last week, edging out the West Coast. West Coast plants ran at 77.7% of their capacity while East Coast plants ran just 60.8% of their available capacity.

Production of fuel ethanol, a key ingredient in gasoline- decreased 4,000bpd to 881,000 barrels per day.

Total oil stocks in the United States are now up 33.0 million barrels (3.0%) over last year and stand at 1.1322 billion barrels (excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve).