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 358.3 million barrels. At 358.3 million barrels, inventories are 14.5 million barrels above last year (4.2%) and remain above average. Supply at NYMEX delivery point, Cushing, Oklahoma decreased some 700,000 barrels to 36.3 million barrels this week. Supplies at Cushing have decreased for the third time in a month but remain at healthy levels.

Gasoline inventories increased 2.3 million barrels to 225.6 million barrels. At 225.6 million barrels, inventories are now 17.6 million barrels, or 8.4% higher than last year (last week that number was 6.5% higher). Decreases in gasoline inventories were seen only in the Midwest (-1.1mb). The East Coast posted a gain (0.7mb) last week, along with the West Coast (0.8mb), and Gulf Coast (1.8mb).

Distillate inventories increased by 1.8 million barrels to a total of 176.0 million barrels. At 176.0 million barrels, inventories are 8.4% higher than a year ago. Demand for distillate fuel (diesel, industrial fuels) is up an average of 4.9% over the last four weeks (last week the number was 5.8%). Distillate inventories are now 13.6 million barrels above their year ago level.

Refinery utilization decreased to 87.7%, a fall of 2.3% over last week's numbers. Gasoline production increased last week to 9.6 million barrels per day while distillate fuel production averaged 4.4 million barrels per day, an increase over the prior week.

Refineries in the Midwest again operated at the highest utilization- some 94.4% of capacity. Refiners on the East Coast and Gulf Coast tied for second at 87.8%. Refiners on the West Coast remained the lowest once again and were down 0.8%, again running the lowest percent of available capacity at just 79.8%. 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- decreased to 835,000 barrels per day- an drop of 25,000bpd. The price of wholesale ethanol is now higher than gasoline, likely pushing down demand for ethanol where possible.

Total oil stocks in the United States are now up 33.7 million barrels (3.0%) over last year and stand at 1.1393 billion barrels (excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve).