US: EIA Petroleum Status Report

Wed May 20 09:30:00 CDT 2015

Actual Previous
Crude oil inventories (weekly change) -2.7M barrels -2.2M barrels
Gasoline (weekly change) -2.8M barrels -1.1M barrels
Distillates (weekly change) -0.5M barrels -2.5M barrels

The worst of the oil glut may be past based on oil inventories which fell for a 3rd straight week, down 2.7 million barrels in the May 15 week to 482.2 million. And for a 2nd week in a row, product inventories are down with gasoline down 2.8 million barrels and distillate inventories down 0.5 million barrels. Though still operating at a very active 92.4 percent of capacity, refineries cut back output in the week. WTI, at $58.50, is down slightly in early reaction to the report.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) provides weekly information on petroleum inventories in the U.S., whether produced here or abroad. The level of inventories helps determine prices for petroleum products.

Petroleum product prices are determined by supply and demand - just like any other good and service. During periods of strong economic growth, one would expect demand to be robust. If inventories are low, this will lead to increases in crude oil prices - or price increases for a wide variety of petroleum products such as gasoline or heating oil. If inventories are high and rising in a period of strong demand, prices may not need to increase at all, or as much. During a period of sluggish economic activity, demand for crude oil may not be as strong. If inventories are rising, this may push down oil prices.

Crude oil is an important commodity in the global market. Prices fluctuate depending on supply and demand conditions in the world. Since oil is such an important part of the economy, it can also help determine the direction of inflation. In the U.S., consumer prices have moderated whenever oil prices have fallen, but have accelerated when oil prices have risen.