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Here's What the Weekly EIA Crude Inventory Report Revealed

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Oil prices were little changed at $61.02 a barrel on Wednesday as investors weighed optimism over the phase one U.S.-China trade deal against bearish official data from the EIA.

In particular, the U.S. Energy Department's inventory release showed that crude stocks recorded a weekly decrease that was smaller than anticipated. The report further revealed that refined product inventories – gasoline and distillate – both rose from their previous week levels.

Below we review the EIA's Weekly Petroleum Status Report for the week ending Dec 13.

Crude Oil: The federal government’s EIA report revealed that crude inventories fell by 1.1 million barrels, compared to the 2.5 million barrels decrease that energy analysts had expected. Lower imports were primarily responsible for the stockpile drawdown with the world's biggest oil consumer. However, the decline was capped below projections as refinery runs fell.

This puts the total domestic stocks at 446.8 million barrels – 1.2% above the year-ago figure and 4% higher than the five-year average.

Meanwhile, the oil market drew some support from stockpile draw at the Cushing terminal in Oklahoma. The key delivery hub for U.S. crude futures traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange saw inventories fall 265,000 barrels to 40.2 million barrels.

The crude supply cover was down from 27.1 days in the previous week to 27 days. In the year-ago period, the supply cover was 25.3 days.

Turning to products, and it is a fairly bearish story as well.

Gasoline: Gasoline supplies increased for the sixth straight week. The fuel’s 2.5 million barrels jump is attributable to higher production. Analysts had forecast 2.4 million barrels climb. At 237.3 million barrels, the current stock of the most widely used petroleum product is 3.1% above the year-earlier level and exceeds the five-year average range by 5%.

Distillate: Distillate fuel supplies (including diesel and heating oil) were up for the fourth time in 13 weeks. The 1.5 million barrels increase was significantly higher than the supply climb of 600,000 barrels that analysts were looking for. Current supplies – at 125.1 million barrels – are 4.3% higher than the year-ago level but remain 7% below the five-year average.

Refinery Rates: Refinery utilization – at 90.6% – was unchanged from the prior week.

About the Weekly Petroleum Status Report

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) Petroleum Status Report, containing data of 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 the businesses of the companies engaged in the oil and refining industry.

The data from EIA generally acts as a catalyst for crude prices and affect producers, such as ExxonMobil XOM, Chevron (CVX - Free Report) and ConocoPhillips COP and refiners such as Valero Energy VLO and Marathon Petroleum MPC.

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