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 3.1 million barrels to a total of 360.9 million barrels. At 360.9 million barrels, inventories are 23.5 million barrels above last year (7.0%) and remain above average. Supply at NYMEX delivery point, Cushing, Oklahoma increased some 700,000 barrels to 35.1 million barrels this week. This is the first time supplies at Cushing, OK have increased in over two months.

Gasoline inventories decreased 2.6 million barrels to 222.6 million barrels. At 219.9 million barrels, inventories are now 11.1 million barrels, or 5.6% higher than last year (last week that number was 5.3% higher). Decreases were seen on the East Coast (-2.3mb) and Gulf Coast (-1.3mb). Increases in inventories were seen in the Midwest (+0.6mb) and West Coast (+0.4mb).

Distillate inventories decreased by 1.1 million barrels to a total of 172.5 million barrels. At 172.5 million barrels, inventories are just 0.4% higher than a year ago. Demand for distillate fuel (diesel, industrial fuels) is up an average of 11.5% over the last four weeks (last week the number was 13.4%). Distillate inventories are now 0.7 million barrels above their year ago level.

Refinery utilization increased to 83.1%, a fall of 2.7% over last week's numbers. This is likely due to refiners undergoing maintenance before the winter heating season. Gasoline production decreased last week to a measly 8.8 million barrels per day while distillate fuel production averaged 4.2 million barrels per day, a decrease over the prior week.

Refineries in the Rockies operated at the highest utilization- some 94.5% of capacity. Refiners in the Midwest came in second at 89.7% while refiners on the Gulf Coast came in third with 85.5%. 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 73.7% of their capacity while East Coast plants ran just 67.9% of their capacity.

Production of fuel ethanol, a key ingredient in gasoline- decreased to 863,000 barrels per day- a rise of 38,000bpd.

Total oil stocks in the United States are now up 29.7 million barrels (2.7%) over last year and stand at 1.1389 billion barrels (excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve).