The Energy Information Administration released its weekly report on the condition of petroleum inventories in the United States today.

Here are some highlights:

Crude oil inventories decreased by 1.9 million barrels to a total of 334.2 million barrels. At 334.2 million barrels, inventories are 11.9 million barrels below last year (-3.4%) and are in the upper limit of the average range.

Gasoline inventories increased by 3.8 million barrels to 218.8 million barrels. At 218.8 million barrels, inventories are 4.0 million barrels, or 1.9% higher than last year. Here's how individual regions and their gasoline inventory fared last week: East Coast (+1.9mb); Midwest (+1.8mb); Gulf Coast (+0.1mb); Rockies (-0.1mb); and West Coast (+0.2mb). It is important to note which regions saw increases/decreases as this information likely drives prices up (in the case of falling inventories), or down (in the case of rising inventories).

DISTILLATE (diesel, heating oil) INVENTORIES:
Distillate inventories increased by 0.5 million barrels to a total of 141.5 million barrels. At 141.5 million barrels, inventories are now 12.3% lower than a year ago. Total distillate inventories stand 19.8 million barrels lower than their year ago level.

Refinery utilization rose to 85.1%, a rise of 0.5% vs. last week's numbers. Gasoline production increased last week averaging 9.5 million barrels per day while distillate fuel production decreased, averaging just under 5.0 million barrels per day.

Utilization rates for the last week were as follows: East Coast: 67.6%, Midwest: 94.9%, Gulf Coast: 88.0%, Rocky Mountain: 89.6%, West Coast: 73.6%. These percentages show how much of a region's overall capacity were used to refine oil. It is important to note these percentages, because the lower the utilization percent, the lower output, which has a direct impact on local gasoline prices. If refiners in your region have low output, your more likely to see prices rise.

Total oil stocks in the United States are down 29.2 million barrels (-2.7%) over last year and stand at 1.054 billion barrels (excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve).

The U.S. imported 820,000 barrels per day of gasoline and 198,000bpd of distillate fuels. However, during the same time frame, the U.S. exported 529,000bpd of gasoline and 948,000bpd of distillates. In total, U.S. refineries exported nearly 2.9 million barrels per DAY of oil and products! (These numbers are last weeks numbers. New numbers become available Thursdays)

This was another great report. In just two weeks we've seen the year on year difference in inventories narrow considerably, as well as seen finished product inventories rise two consecutive weeks. EIA reports demand is also soft at 18.3 million barrels per day. Gasoline demand is down 4.5% vs. the same week a year ago. I believe we could even see lower prices as inventories rise- if speculation about economic recovery doesn't ruin things.