|Crude oil inventories (weekly change)||2.8M barrels||2.3M barrels|
|Gasoline (weekly change)||6.8M barrels||6.0M barrels|
|Distillates (weekly change)||0.1M barrels||-1.0M barrels|
Crude oil inventories rose 2.8 million barrels in the January 20 week to 488.3 million and were up 5.3 percent from last year at this time. Product inventories also rose, with motor gasoline up 6.8 million barrels to 253.2 million, 1.9 percent above last year, while distillates rose marginally by 0.1 million barrels to 169.1 million, up 5.4 percent from a year ago.
Crude oil imports averaged 7.8 million barrels per day in the week, down 568,000 barrels per day from the prior week. Average imports over the last 4 weeks were 8.1 million barrels per day, 4.3 percent above the level last year for this period.
Refineries eased off again, operating at 88.3 percent of their operable capacity, down 2.4 percent from the previous week when it was down 2.9 percent from the week prior. Production of gasoline fell to an average of 8.8 million barrels per day, while distillate production fell to an average of 4.6 million barrels.
On the demand side, total products supplied over the last four weeks averaged 19.0 million barrels per day, down 300,000 per day from the prior week's 4-week average and down 2.6 percent from the same period last year. Motor gasoline supplied over the last four weeks averaged 8.3 million barrels per day, down 4.7 percent year-on-year, while the supply of distillates averaged 3.4 million barrels per day, up 1.3 percent.
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.