Crude oil imports increased for the week ending January 3 by 466,000 barrels a day to an average 8 million per day, according to the weekly petroleum report by the Energy Information Administration (or, EIA). Over the previous three weeks, imports have averaged 7.7 million per day. Imports are still below averages from a year ago, by 3.6 percent. Refineries operated at 92.3 percent, and averaged 16.1 million barrels each day, which is 113,000 fewer than the week before. Gasoline production rose, while distillate fuel production declined.
Inventories of crude oil in the U.S. were also down 2.7 million barrels fewer than the prior week. The inventories remain near the upper-range for this time of year, with 357.9 million barrels. Inventories of gasoline, finished gasoline, blending components, distillate, and commercial petroleum all increased during the week; only propane/propylene inventories were listed as having decreased.
During the four week period ending on the 3rd, there was a 4.3 percent year-over-year increase in products supplied. Total products supplied averaged 19.7 million barrels per day, with motor gasoline accounting for around 8.8 million barrels. That is a 4.8 percent increase over last year’s data.
In another report, a monthly supplement to the EIA Short-Term Energy Outlook, the EIA explained that during the fourth-quarter, gasoline inventories typically increase, and that trend continued this year. The report also stated “the rise in inventories from October to December 2013 was the lowest for any fourth quarter since 2001.”
This took place “even as refineries reported high gross inputs at the end of the year, resulting in a record high gasoline production for the four weeks ending December 27,” and displays “the effect of strong U.S. consumption and exports in fourth-quarter 2013 on the gasoline market.”
The EIA discussed market prices as well. Internationally, crude oil prices were stable during December, and declined at the beginning of January. In the U.S., domestic prices experienced an increase in December. It stated that April 2014 prices for West Texas Intermediate futures contract averaged $98.48 per barrel over five trading days ending January 2. The likelihood of the contract exceeding $100 per barrel at expiration according to the EIA is 40 percent.