U.S. Oil Supplies Reach 82-Year High

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Next time you grumble about the high price of gasoline, consider this surprising fact: The U.S. is awash in a glut of crude oil, with inventories at their highest level since the government began keeping monthly data in 1931, according to a report released last week by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).


Although the price of crude oil is down, consumers should not expect much of a price cut at the gas pump, thanks to continued, although slowing, demand worldwide and the effects of speculation.


While inventories of oil and distillates (diesel fuel and heating oil) rose, the supply of gasoline actually fell. The total U.S. commercial inventory of crude oil stands at 395.3 million barrels, while total gasoline inventories fell to the middle of the range for the past five years. Refineries supplied more than 8.5 million barrels a day of gasoline during April—a drop of about 1.8% compared with last year.


That drop, along with a 1.4% fall in total fuel consumption for April and a 0.3% decrease in demand for gasoline, were signs that the Great Recession, although officially over, is still depressing economic activity. Not surprisingly, the EIA report hit the price of crude oil, which had been down about 1% anyway, with an additional 3% loss (about $0.50) immediately following the report’s release.


“The concern is that supplies are going to exceed demand,” warned Phil Flynn, at the Price Futures Group in Chicago. “The market is focused on the overwhelming supplies.”


‘‘The worsening economic outlook dovetailed very nicely with the inventory build,” agreed Gene McGillian, an analyst at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut. “Concerns about the economy are reasserting themselves.”


As a result, EIA forecasts that gasoline prices this summer will hover between $3.57 and $3.69 per gallon, about the same as the average 2012 price of $3.63 per gallon.

-Matt Bewig


To Learn More:

Crude Falls as U.S. Supplies Climb to 82-Year High (by Moming Zhou, Bloomberg)

Inventory Report Crushes Oil Prices (by 24/7 Wall Street)

CBO Says Drilling on Federal Land Won’t Net Much Money or Energy (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)

Obama Oil Speculation Task Force Ignores Oil Speculation (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)


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