(XOM) U.S. Crude Stocks Gain – Fuels Drop

The U.S. Energy Department’s weekly inventory release showed that crude stockpiles rose to their highest level since September 2011. The agency’s report further revealed that gasoline and distillate stocks declined slightly from their previous week levels. Meanwhile, refinery utilization rate was up by 1.5%.

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 Corp. (XOM), Chevron Corp. (CVX), ConocoPhillips (COP), Valero Energy Corp. (VLO) and Tesoro Corp. (TSO).

Analysis of the Data

Crude Oil: The federal government’s EIA report revealed that crude inventories rose by 1.63 million barrels for the week ending February 17, 2012, after falling by 171,000 barrels last week.

Analysts surveyed by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Companies Inc. (MHP), had expected oil stocks to go up some 1.7 million barrels. A rise in the level of imports led to the stockpile build-up with the world’s biggest oil consumer even as refiners improved their utilization rates.

However, crude inventories at the Cushing terminal in Oklahoma – the key delivery hub for U.S. crude futures – came off 315,000 barrels from last week’s level to 32.17 million barrels. Stocks reached an all-time high of 41.90 million barrels in April last year.

At 340.71 million barrels, current crude supplies are 1.7% below the year-earlier level, but are in the upper limit of the average for this time of the year. The crude supply cover was down from 23.5 days in the previous week to 23.4 days. In the year-ago period, the supply cover was 24.7 days.

Gasoline: Supplies of gasoline decreased for the first time in four weeks as domestic gasoline consumption rose 5.6% to 8.63 million barrels a day

The 649,000 barrels-dip – more than that of projections – took gasoline stockpiles down to 231.53 million barrels. The existing inventory level of the most widely used petroleum product is 2.9% below the year-earlier levels and is in the upper limit of the average range.

Distillate: Distillate fuel inventories (including diesel and heating oil) were down by 208,000 barrels last week, significantly below analyst expectations for a 1.75 million barrels decrease. The modest fall in distillate fuel supplies – for the second consecutive week – could be attributed to lower imports and production.

At 143.51 million barrels, distillate supplies are 10.3% below the year-ago level and are in the middle of the average range for this time of the year.

Refinery Rates: Refinery utilization was up 1.5% from the prior week at 85.5%. Analysts were expecting the refinery run rate to decline 0.6% to 83.4%.
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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