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 1.4 million barrels to a total of 338.1 million barrels. At 338.1 million barrels, inventories are 26.8 million barrels below last year (-7.3%) and are in the upper limit of the average range.

Gasoline inventories decreased by 2.1 million barrels to 204.2 million barrels. At 204.2 million barrels, inventories are now 6.2 million barrels, or 2.9% 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 (-1.7mb), Midwest (-0.6mb), Gulf Coast (-0.8mb), Rockies (-0.1mb), and West Coast (+1.2mb). 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 decreased by 6.0 million barrels to a total of 135.9 million barrels. At 135.9 million barrels, inventories are now 15.0% lower than a year ago. Distillate inventories are 24.0 million barrels lower than their year ago level.

Refinery utilization hit 82.6%, a drop of 2.7% vs. last week's numbers. Gasoline production decreased last week to 8.8 million barrels per day while distillate fuel production averaged 4.3 million barrels per day, a decrease over the prior week.

Utilization rates for the last week were as follows: East Coast: 72.8%, Midwest: 86.7%, Gulf Coast: 85.5%, Rocky Mountain: 89.5%, West Coast: 73.2%. 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 66.1 million barrels (-5.9%) over last year and stand at 1.0494 billion barrels (excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve).

The U.S. imported 781,000 barrels per day of gasoline and 122,000bpd of distillate fuels. However, during the same time frame, the U.S. exported 536,000bpd of gasoline and 912,000bpd of distillates. In total, U.S. refineries exported nearly 2.8 million barrels per DAY of oil and products! (These numbers are last weeks numbers. New numbers become available Thursdays)

COMMENTS: I feel sorry for the truckers and transportation communities. Diesel/heating oil inventories continue their near free fall as refiners export more of the product to drum up margins. Most East/West Coast refiners are finding that to stay profitable (high cost of Brent crude) they have little choice. This is because the lack of sweet crude and lower output in Europe, as well as higher demand from South America. For gasoline consumers, this isn't a terrible report, but certainly not the best. Today we're dealing with the fallout from Italy, so expect the markets to make that their news leader with oil prices falling, ignoring this report.