Analysis of U.S. EIA data: U.S. crude oil stocks rise; Cushing inventories drop for fourth week


New York - July 31, 2013


U.S. commercial crude oil stocks rose 431,000 barrels during the week ended July 26, counter to analysts' expectations, while inventories at the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) delivery point at Cushing, Oklahoma, fell for the fourth consecutive week, U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) data showed Wednesday.


At 364.6 million barrels for the week ended July 26, crude oil stocks were just more than 5% above than the five-year average. This is the first increase in crude oil stocks after having fallen nearly 30 million barrels during the previous four reporting periods.


Analysts polled by Platts were anticipating a 3 million-barrel draw in crude oil stocks. The EIA's reported build was counter to data released Tuesday by the American Petroleum Institute (API), which showed a 740,000 barrel decline in crude oil stocks.


Stocks in the U.S. Midwest fell 2.1 million barrels, EIA data showed, but were countered by a 1.2 million-barrel increase in stocks on the U.S. Gulf Coast (USGC) and a 1.1 million-barrel build on the U.S. West Coast.


Stocks at the Cushing storage hub – delivery point for the NYMEX crude oil futures contract – fell 1.9 million barrels to 42.1 million barrels. Crude oil stocks at Cushing have dropped 7.5 million barrels, or 15%, since the week ended June 28.


The Cushing stock figure for the current reporting week is about 3 million barrels below year-ago levels; however, it is also more than 24% above the EIA five-year average.


U.S. refinery runs edged lower, down 1 percentage point to 91.3% of capacity, while crude oil imports rose 136,000 barrels per day (b/d) to 8.17 million b/d.


Canadian imports rose 36,000 b/d to 2.61 million b/d, while Mexican imports were up 118,000 b/d to 1.25 million b/d. Brazilian imports increased 208,000 b/d to 241,000 b/d.


U.S. refinery run rates have been moving steadily higher, having averaged 91.8% of capacity during the last six reporting weeks.


Crude oil inputs to refineries dropped 66,000 b/d to 15.97 million b/d during the week ended July 26 – the first time inputs have dipped below the 16 million b/d mark since the week ended June 21.


Runs could have edged lower during the week ended July 26 after a few key refineries shut units. Motiva's 600,000 b/d, Port Arthur, Texas, refinery shut some units due to lightning and bad weather, according to the refinery.


Also, Total's 174,000 b/d, Port Arthur refinery shut a crude oil unit and a delayed coker due to a power outage, according to sources.


Tesoro's 265,000 b/d, Carson, California, refinery reported flaring during the week ended July 26, with sources attributing it to a downed reformer. Tesoro spokeswoman Tina Barbee said the facility was undergoing maintenance.


Also during the week ended July 26, Philadelphia Energy Solutions' 300,000 b/d, Philadelphia refinery shut a 20,000 b/d alkylation unit and a hydrotreater.


Analysts had mixed views, but on average expect U.S. refinery utilization to increase 0.2 percentage point.


GASOLINE STOCKS RISE COUNTER TO ESTIMATES


In products, U.S. gasoline stocks rose 770,000 barrels to 223.5 million barrels during the week ended July 26, counter to analysts’ expectations of a 1.5 million-barrel draw.


Still, stocks on the U.S. Atlantic Coast – home to the New York Harbor-delivered NYMEX RBOB contract – fell 778,000 barrels to 60.3 million barrels.


That was countered by a 1.5 million-barrel build on the USGC and a 900,000 barrel rise on the U.S. West Coast.


During the reporting period, U.S. implied demand* for finished motor gasoline rose 165,000 b/d to 9.147 million b/d. That's also up 327,000 b/d from the year-ago period.


Total motor gasoline imports jumped 378,000 b/d to 700,000 b/d. That's back near levels seen the week ended July 12.


U.S. distillate stocks fell 500,000 barrels to 126 million barrels during the week ended July 26, EIA data showed, with implied demand* for the fuel dipping 333,000 b/d to 3.98 million b/d.


Analysts polled by Platts had expected an 800,000 barrel rise in stocks.


* Implied demand is the amount of product that moves through the U.S. distribution system, not actual end consumption.


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