|Crude oil inventories (weekly change)||13.8M barrels||6.5M barrels|
|Gasoline (weekly change)||-0.9M barrels||3.9M barrels|
|Distillates (weekly change)||0.0M barrels||1.6M barrels|
Crude oil inventories jumped up by an outsized 13.8 million barrels in the February 3 week to 508.6 million, posting the fifth weekly increase in a row and putting the year-on-year gain at 8.1 percent. Motor gasoline inventories fell by 0.9 million barrels to 256.2 million, up 0.2 percent year-on-year, while distillates remained unchanged at 170.7 million barrels, up 6.1 percent from the year ago level.
Crude oil imports swelled substantially, averaging 9.4 million barrels per day, up 1.1 million barrels per day from the prior week. Average imports over the last 4 weeks ran at 8.5 million per day, 10.0 percent above the level in the same period last year.
Refineries operated at 87.7 percent of their operating capacity, down 0.6 percentage points from the prior week, but gasoline production increased, averaging 9.8 million barrels per day, up by 700,000 barrels daily, as did distillate fuel production, which averaged 4.8 million barrels per day, up by 100,000 barrels daily.
On the demand side, total products supplied over the last 4 weeks averaged 19.9 million barrels, up by 0.3 percent from the same period last year. Supplied motor gasoline averaged 8.3 million barrels per day over the period, down 6.0 percent from the level a year ago, while distillate fuel averaged 3.9 million barrels per day, up 7.6 percent year-on-year.
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.