(XOM) U.S. Crude Oil – Fuel Supplies Rise

The U.S. Energy Department’s weekly inventory release showed that crude stockpiles increased more than expected on higher imports, while gasoline supplies rose for the third straight week. The agency’s report further revealed that distillate stocks posted a surprise build, as production hit a record high. Meanwhile, refiners reduced processing rates by 0.9%.

The Energy Information Administration (“EIA”) Petroleum Status Report – which contains data for the previous week ending 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 rose by 3.93 million barrels for the week ending November 25, 2011, after tumbling to their lowest level in almost two years last week.

Analysts surveyed by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Companies Inc. (MHP), had expected oil stocks to go up some 1.5 million barrels. A fall in refinery utilization and higher imports caused the dip in stockpile with the world’s biggest oil consumer.

However, crude inventories at the Cushing terminal in Oklahoma – the key delivery hub for U.S. crude futures – came off 715,000 barrels from last week’s level to 31.3 million barrels. Stocks reached an all-time high of 41.90 million barrels earlier this year.

At 334.75 million barrels, current crude supplies are 7.0% lower than the year-earlier level, but are in the upper limit of the average for this time of the year. The crude supply cover was up from 22.6 days in the previous week to 22.9 days. In the year-ago period, the supply cover was 25.4 days.

Gasoline

Supplies of gasoline increased for the fourth time in five weeks as demand continued to lack luster. The 213,000 barrels-build – much less than projections – took gasoline stockpiles up to 209.85 million barrels. The existing inventory level is 0.2% below the year-earlier levels and is in the middle of the average range.

Distillate

Distillate fuel inventories (including diesel and heating oil) were up by 5.53 million barrels last week, contrary to analyst expectations for a 1.5 million barrels drawdown. The increase in distillate fuel supplies – following eight consecutive weeks of decline that took the stockpile to its lowest since late 2008 – could be attributed to record production.

At 138.49 million barrels, distillate supplies are 12.4% below the year-ago level but are in the lower boundary of the average range at this time of the year.

Refinery Rates

Refinery utilization was down 0.9% from the prior week to 84.6%.

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

VALERO ENERGY (VLO): Free Stock Analysis Report

EXXON MOBIL CRP (XOM): Free Stock Analysis Report

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