Oil infrastructure improvements that enable cost-effective and timely product delivery are supposed to be applauded. But in this case we may hear the sound of one hand clapping.

When NYMEX crude oil surpassed $96 per barrel Thursday, it reached the highest level in four months as service began on the expanded Seaway pipeline, and, heating oil also jumped.

Oil futures increased after Seaway resumed service to the Gulf Coast from Cushing, Oklahoma, on Jan. 11. Bloomberg says the Seaway Pipeline's increased capacity of 400,000 barrels a day may help ease a glut at Cushing that has held down prices of West Texas Intermediate crude.

The 500-mile (805-kilometer) Seaway pipeline resumed full service after shutting Jan. 2 to complete the final connections necessary to boost the line’s capacity by 250,000 barrels from 150,000, Enterprise Products Partners LP (EPD) and Enbridge Inc. (ENB) said on Jan. 11.

Seaway’s expansion is expected to reduce record inventories of crude at Cushing, the delivery point for U.S. benchmark WTI oil futures. Cushing stockpiles climbed to 50.1 million barrels in the week ending Jan. 4, the highest level in data going back to 2004 from the Energy Information Administration, the Energy Department’s statistical division.

“This is another milestone on the road to eventually relieving the structural oversupply situation in the U.S. Midcontinent,” said Mike Wittner, the New York-based head of commodities research at Societe Generale SA, in a note to clients today.

Bloomberg noted that WTI crude slid in 2012 as the U.S. shale boom deepened a glut at Cushing, America’s biggest storage hub and the delivery point for the New York contract. That left it at an average $17.48 a barrel below Brent crude last year, versus a premium of about 95 cents in the 10 years through 2010.

All things considered, it's good news for oil logistics, delivery and shipping; but when WTI crude goes higher, we can forecast with accuracy what that usually means for retail gasoline prices...