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US Crude Oil Inventories Supported Crude Oil Prices

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Dec. 4 2020, Updated 10:52 a.m. ET

EIA’s crude oil inventories 

The EIA (U.S. Energy Information Administration) released its weekly crude oil inventory report on August 17, 2016. It reported that US crude oil inventories fell by 2.5 MMbbls (million barrels) to 521.1 MMbbls from August 5–12, 2016. US crude oil inventories fell for the first time in the last four weeks.

A Platts survey estimated that US crude oil inventories fell by 200,000 barrels from August 5–12, 2016. A larger-than-expected decrease in crude oil inventories supported crude oil prices.

For more on crude oil prices, please read Part 1 and Part 2 of this series. In Part 5, we’ll see why US crude oil inventories fell.

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US crude oil inventories by region 

The EIA divides the US into five storage regions. Below are the changes in crude oil inventories for these regions from August 5–12, 2016:

  • East Coast fell by 0.7 MMbbls to 17.1 MMbbls
  • Midwest fell by 0.1 MMbbls to 153 MMbbls
  • Gulf Coast fell by 0.2 MMbbls to 272.1 MMbbls
  • Rocky Mountain rose by 0.8 MMbbls to 26.4 MMbbls
  • West Coast fell by 2.3 MMbbls to 52.5 MMbbls 

Impact of US crude oil inventories 

US crude oil inventories hit an all-time high of 543.6 MMbbls in the week ending April 29, 2016. For the week ending August 12, 2016, nationwide crude oil inventories were 14.2% more than in the same period in 2015. Near-record US crude oil inventories will limit the upside for crude oil prices. To learn more, read US Crude Oil Prices Tested 3-Month Lows.

High US crude oil inventories and a contango market benefit oil tankers like Nordic American Tankers (NAT), Teekay Tankers (TNK), DHT Holdings (DHT), and Tsakos Energy Navigation (TNP).

Lower crude oil prices have a negative impact on oil producers’ earnings like Cobalt International Energy (CIE) and Comstock Resources (CRK).

Uncertainty in crude oil prices impacts ETFs such as the Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE), the iShares Global Energy ETF (IXC), the iShares U.S. Energy ETF (IYE), and the SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Equipment & Services ETF (XES).

In the next part of this series, we’ll take a look at US crude oil production.

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