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US Crude Inventories Drop, Gasoline Stocks on the Rise (1)


US crude exports averaged 1.86M b/d during the week ending 15 December 2017, up 71% or 772K b/d w-o-w, and a more than 230% or 1.3M b/d increase y-o-y, according to the US Energy Information Administration. This followed a widening of the Brent/WTI spread to an average of $6.20 per barrel that week, up $0.79 per barrel w-o-w, as a hairline crack forced the closure of the Forties Pipeline System, removing around 400K b/d from the North Sea for the next 2-4 weeks.  

US exports have averaged 1.43M b/d during the last four weeks, about 925K b/d more than the same four week period last year. Meanwhile, US crude imports averaged 7.83M b/d last week, up 6.4% or 471K b/d w-o-w but down about 640K b/d y-o-y. Over the last four weeks, US crude imports averaged 7.43M b/d, 489K b/d lower than the respective four-week period last year.

US crude inventories dropped 1.5% or 6.5M barrels w-o-w to 436.5M barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a smaller decrease of 3.8M barrels, and are moving closer to the 5-year average level of about 420M barrels. Crude oil refinery throughput was at 17.06M b/d last week, up 111K b/d w-o-w and 405K b/d y-o-y, with refineries operating at 94.1% of their available capacity, up 0.7% w-o-w and 0.6% from the 4-week average.

Gasoline production dropped by 0.6% w-o-w, averaging about 10.07M b/d, while inventories of motor gasoline rose to 227.8M barrels, up 1.2M barrels w-o-w, compared with analysts’ expectations for a greater 1.9 M barrel gain.