The Department of Energy released its weekly report on the condition of petroleum inventories in the United States today. Today's report marks the first report with many significant changes from the DOE.

Here are some highlights:

Crude oil inventories decreased by 1.8 million barrels to a total of 361.4 million barrels. At 361.4 million barrels, inventories are just 200,000 barrels above last year (0.4%) and remain above average. Supply at NYMEX delivery point, Cushing, Oklahoma decreased some 0.5 million barrels to 37.4 million barrels this week.

Gasoline inventories were unchanged this week. At 219.0 million barrels, inventories are now 8.6% higher than last year. Decreases in gasoline inventories were seen in the Midwest (-0.7mb) and the West Coast (-0.5mb). The East Coast posted a large gain (1.0mb) last week.

Distillate inventories increased by 1.8 million barrels to a total of 154.8 million barrels. At 154.8 million barrels, inventories are again higher (3.4%) than a year ago. Demand for distillate fuel (diesel, industrial fuels) is up an average of 12.1% over the last four weeks, a decrease over last week's 17.1%, but still an increase as commercial use likely rises. Retail diesel prices should be within 20-30 cents of regular unleaded gasoline in most areas.

Refinery utilization increased slightly to 89.1%, a decrease of 1.6% over last week's numbers. Gasoline production decreased compared to last week to 9.1 million barrels per day while distillate fuel production averaged 4.4 million barrels per day, also an increase over the prior week.

Overall, this report signals that refiners are happy with margins and are keeping markets well supplied, thus the decrease in crude oil inventories. While the market is currently trading higher, this DOE report is bearish for oil and gasoline, and will eventually cause prices to hold or fall. Gasoline prices across the United States have seemingly ended their fall, holding steady for the last week. Prices in some areas are now lower than they were in 2009, a significant feat many (including myself) thought not possible just a month ago.