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 7.3 million barrels to a total of 357.6 million barrels. At 357.6 million barrels, inventories are 20.8 million barrels above last year (6.2%) and remain above average. Supply at NYMEX delivery point, Cushing, Oklahoma rose 1.3 million barrels to 33.1 million barrels this week.

Gasoline inventories decreased 2.7 million barrels to 207.7 million barrels. At 207.7 million barrels, inventories are now 1.4 million barrels, or -0.7% lower than last year (last week that number was 0.2% higher). Decreases were seen on the East Coast (-0.3mb) and in the Midwest (-2.0mb), and the West Coast (-0.7mb). Gains were seen on the Gulf Coast (+0.1mb) and the Rockies (+0.1mb).

Distillate inventories decreased by 1.1 million barrels to a total of 158.8 million barrels. At 158.8 million barrels, inventories are now 5.1% lower than a year ago. Demand for distillate fuel (diesel, industrial fuels) is up an average of 13.9% over the last four weeks (last week the number was 16.0%). Distillate inventories are now 8.6 million barrels below their year ago level.

Refinery utilization increased to 84.0%, a rise of 1.6% vs. last week's numbers. This is a sign that refiners are finally coming out of maintenance and are again producing products. Gasoline production decreased last week to 8.9 million barrels per day while distillate fuel production averaged 4.3 million barrels per day, an increase over the prior week.

Refineries on the Gulf Coast operated at the highest utilization- some 88.4% of capacity. Refiners in the Midwest came in second at 84.4% while refiners in the Rockies and West Coast tied for third with 82.7%. 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 82.7% of their capacity while East Coast plants ran just 58.9% of their available capacity.

Production of fuel ethanol, a key ingredient in gasoline- increased 18,000bpd to 895,000 barrels per day.

Total oil stocks in the United States are now up 20.4 million barrels (1.9%) over last year and stand at 1.1064 billion barrels (excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve).