|Crude oil inventories (weekly change)||2.3M barrels||4.1M barrels|
|Gasoline (weekly change)||6.0M barrels||5.0M barrels|
|Distillates (weekly change)||-1.0M barrels||8.4M barrels|
Crude oil inventories rose 2.3 million barrels in the January 13 week to 485.5 million and were up 6.7 percent from last year at this time. Motor gasoline inventories also rose and were up 6.0 million barrels to 246.4 million, 0.6 percent above the level a year ago. Inventories of distillates declined by 1.0 million barrels to 169.1 million, putting the level 2.8 percent above last year at this time.
Crude oil imports averaged 8.4 million barrels per day in the week, down 674,000 barrels from the previous week. Average imports over the last 4 weeks ran at 8.2 million barrels per day, 4.5 percent above the level a year ago.
Refineries operated at 90.7 percent of their operable capacity, down 2.9 percentage points from the previous week. Production decreased to an average of 9.0 million barrels per day for gasoline and 4.7 million barrels per day for distillates.
On the demand side, total products supplied over the last four weeks averaged 19.3 million barrels per day, up 0.1 percent from the same period last year. Of this amount, supplied gasoline averaged about 8.6 million barrels per day, down 2.4 percent from the level last year, while distillates fuel supplied averaged 3.5 million, up 6.6 percent compared to last year at this time.
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.