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 0.5 million barrels to a total of 357.9 million barrels. At 357.9 million barrels, inventories are 19.5 million barrels above last year (5.7%) and remain above average. Supply at NYMEX delivery point, Cushing, Oklahoma decreased some 400,000 barrels to 34.3 million barrels this week. Supplies at Cushing have decreased for the last eight consecutive weeks.

Gasoline inventories increased 3.5 million barrels to 222.6 million barrels. At 222.6 million barrels, inventories are now 11.1 million barrels, or 5.3% higher than last year (last week that number was 6.1% higher). Decreases were seen on the East Coast (-3.9mb) and Gulf Coast (-1.1). Increases in inventories were seen in the Midwest (+1.3mb) and West Coast (+0.2mb).

Distillate inventories decreased by 1.3 million barrels to a total of 173.6 million barrels. At 173.6 million barrels, inventories are just 1.5% higher than a year ago. Demand for distillate fuel (diesel, industrial fuels) is up an average of 13.4% over the last four weeks (last week the number was 12.9%). Distillate inventories are now 2.5 million barrels above their year ago level.

Refinery utilization increased to 85.8%, a fall of 2.0% over last week's numbers. This is likely due to refiners undergoing maintenance before the winter heating season. Gasoline production increased last week to 9.2 million barrels per day while distillate fuel production averaged 4.3 million barrels per day, no change over the prior week.

Refineries in the Rockies operated at the highest utilization- some 92.7% of capacity. Refiners in the Midwest came in second at 91.6% while refiners on the Gulf Coast came in third with 86.3%. West Coast refiners resumed their position of utilizing the lowest percentage of their plants again last week, edging out the East Coast. East Coast plants ran at 79.3% of their capacity while West Coast plants ran 78.9% of their capacity.

Production of fuel ethanol, a key ingredient in gasoline- decreased to 825,000 barrels per day- a drop of 25,000bpd.

Total oil stocks in the United States are now up 33.4 million barrels (3.0%) over last year and stand at 1.1388 billion barrels (excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve).

This report indicates total stockpiles decreased by nearly 10 million barrels, dropping the year-on-year gain an entire percentage point in just one week.