(EIA) U.S. Energy Department Reports Crude – Fuel Inventories Fall

The U.S. Energy Department’s weekly inventory release showed that crude, gasoline, and distillate stockpiles – all moved downwards, while refiners improved processing rates by 0.7%.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) Petroleum Status Report – which contains data for the previous week ending on Friday, outlines information regarding the weekly change in petroleum inventories held and produced by the U.S., both locally and abroad.

The report provides an overview of the level of reserves and their movements, thereby helping investors understand the demand/supply dynamics of petroleum products. It is an indicator of current oil prices and volatility that affect businesses of companies engaged in the oil and refining industry, such as ExxonMobil (XOM), Chevron Corp. (CVX), ConocoPhillips (COP), Valero (VLO) and Tesoro (TSO).

Crude Oil

The federal government’s EIA report revealed that crude inventories shrank by 5.23 million barrels for the week ending August 5, 2011, after rising by 950,000 barrels in the preceding week.

Analysts who had been surveyed by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Companies Inc. (MHP), had expected oil stocks to go up. A drop in imports and improved refinery operations led to the dip in stockpile with the world’s biggest oil consumer.

In particular, crude inventories at the Cushing terminal in Oklahoma – the key delivery hub for U.S. crude futures – came off 1.37 million barrels from last week’s level to 34.58 million barrels, its lowest level since November. Stocks reached an all-time high of 41.90 million barrels earlier this year.

At 349.75 million barrels, current crude supplies are 1.5% lower than the year-earlier level but are slightly above the upper limit of the average for this time of the year. The crude supply cover was down from 23.0 days in the previous week to 22.5 days. In the year-ago period, the supply cover was 23.0 days.

Gasoline

Supplies of gasoline decreased for the first time in four weeks on the back of lower import levels and stronger demand, more than offsetting the impact of higher production. The 1.59 million barrels-drawdown – against projections for a much smaller decline – took gasoline stockpiles down to 213.59 million barrels. The existing inventory level is 4.4% below the year-earlier levels but is in the upper half of the average range.

Distillate

Distillate fuel inventories (including diesel and heating oil) were down by 737,000 barrels last week, contrary to expectations of a build. The decrease in distillate fuel supplies can be attributed to lower production and imports, partially offset by tepid demand.

At 151.52 million barrels, distillate supplies are 12.5% less than the year-ago level but are in the upper boundary of the average range at this time of the year.

Refinery Rates

Refinery utilization was up 0.7% from the prior week to 90.0%.

CONOCOPHILLIPS (COP): Free Stock Analysis Report

CHEVRON CORP (CVX): Free Stock Analysis Report

MCGRAW-HILL COS (MHP): Free Stock Analysis Report

TESORO CORP (TSO): Free Stock Analysis Report

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EXXON MOBIL CRP (XOM): Free Stock Analysis Report

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