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 increased by 1.3 million barrels to a total of 337.6 million barrels. At 337.6 million barrels, inventories are 22.9 million barrels below last year (-6.4%) and are in the upper limit of the average range.

Gasoline inventories decreased by 4.1 million barrels to 209.6 million barrels. At 209.6 million barrels, inventories are now 8.6 million barrels, or 3.9% lower than last year (last week that number was 2.8% lower). Here's how individual regions and their gasoline inventory fared last week: East Coast (-1.5mb), Midwest (-0.4mb), Gulf Coast (-1.6mb), Rockies (+0.3mb), and West Coast (-0.8mb). 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 decreased by 2.9 million barrels to a total of 154.0 million barrels. At 154.0 million barrels, inventories are now 10.6% lower than a year ago. Distillate inventories are 18.2 million barrels lower than their year ago level.

Refinery utilization hit 84.2%, a drop of 3.5% vs. last week's numbers. Gasoline production decreased last week to 8.9 million barrels per day while distillate fuel production averaged 4.4 million barrels per day, a decrease over the prior week.

Refineries in the Midwest PADD operated at the highest utilization- some 89.6% of capacity. Refiners in the Gulf Coast PADD came in second at 87.2% while refiners in the Rockies PADD came in third with 86.3%. East Coast refiners took the position of utilizing the lowest percentage of their plants last week, edging out the West Coast. West Coast plants ran at 76.8% of their capacity while East Coast plants ran 69.7% of their available capacity. 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 61.1 million barrels (-5.4%) over last year and stand at 1.073 billion barrels (excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve).

The U.S. imported 418,000 barrels per day of gasoline and 117,000bpd of distillate fuels. However, during the same time frame, the U.S. exported 336,000bpd of gasoline and 881,000bpd of distillates. In total, U.S. refineries exported 2.5 million barrels per DAY of oil and products!

COMMENTS: Lousy report for motorists. We continue to watch exports at high levels while refinery utilization drops. Of course refiners in the Midwest are keeping high runs because of the much cheaper crude, while areas that process more expensive blends reduce their utilization. This report will likely put upward pressure on finished product prices.