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 0.4 million barrels to a total of 360.5 million barrels. At 360.5 million barrels, inventories are 22.8 million barrels above last year (6.7%) and remain above average. Supply at NYMEX delivery point, Cushing, Oklahoma were unchanged at 35.1 million barrels this week.

Gasoline inventories decreased 1.8 million barrels to 218.2 million barrels. At 218.2 million barrels, inventories are now 9.0 million barrels, or 4.3% higher than last year (last week that number was 5.6% higher). Decreases were seen on the East Coast (-1.6mb) and Gulf Coast (-0.7mb), and West Coast (-0.2mb). Increases in inventories were seen in the Midwest (+0.5mb).

Distillate inventories decreased by 0.3 million barrels to a total of 172.2 million barrels. At 172.2 million barrels, inventories are just 0.9% higher than a year ago. Demand for distillate fuel (diesel, industrial fuels) is up an average of 8.8% over the last four weeks (last week the number was 11.5%). Distillate inventories are now 0.9 million barrels above their year ago level.

Refinery utilization decreased to 83.1%, a fall of 1.2% vs. 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 8.7 million barrels per day while distillate fuel production averaged 4.2 million barrels per day, an increase over the prior week.

Refineries in the Rockies operated at the highest utilization- some 89.1% of capacity. Refiners in the Midwest came in second at 87.2% while refiners on the Gulf Coast came in third with 84.8%. 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 75.1% of their capacity while East Coast plants ran just 61.5% of their available capacity.

Production of fuel ethanol, a key ingredient in gasoline- decreased to 87,000 barrels per day- a rise of 14,000bpd.

Total oil stocks in the United States are now up 30.9 million barrels (2.8%) over last year and stand at 1.1342 billion barrels (excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve).