Week of May 26 set new record

U.S. refineries are breaking records processing crude oil this year but crude inventories are still high, according to a note released by the EIA Tuesday.

According to the EIA, gross inputs to U.S. petroleum refineries, known as refinery runs, averaged 17.7 MMBOPD in the week ending May 26. This is an all-time high, exceeding the previous peak of 17.5 MMBOPD set in mid-April. Refineries have been running at historic highs for most of 2017, with weekly refinery runs exceeding the previous five-year range for most of the year.

For reference, before 2017 the previous record refinery run was set in September 2016 at 17.3 MMBOPD. Weekly refinery runs have exceeded 17 MMBOPD only 24 times since the EIA began tracking in 1990. All of these times have happened since July 2015.

Refinery Runs at All-Time Highs

Source: EIA

U.S. refinery capacity is steadily increasing, and is currently at a record high of 18.6 MMBOPD. The increasing capacity means that despite the record high levels of refinery runs, refinery utilization is at relatively normal levels.

Refinery Runs at All-Time Highs

Source: EIA

Inventories drop this week, but still remain high

Despite the tremendous amount of crude consumed by refineries, crude inventories are still high. According to the EIA, there are currently 509,095 MBBL of crude oil in commercial inventories. While there was an inventory draw of 2,451 MBBL in the past week, the current inventory is the highest ever recorded for this point in the year. The five-year average inventory for this week in June is 403,657 MBBL, meaning current inventories exceed the five year average by more than 25%.

Refinery Runs at All-Time Highs

Source: EnerCom Analytics

Product demand, exports high this year

Refined product inventories are not quite at record highs, but are at the upper end of the five-year range. Currently, there are about 842 MMBBL of refined products in inventories. This is about  3 MMBBL below this point last year, but 83 MMBBL above the five-year average.

Total product supplied, a reasonable proxy for demand, was significantly above average during most of May, but dropped closer to average levels in June. Product exports were also at record highs earlier in the year, but are now within the five-year range.

Refinery Runs at All-Time Highs

Source: EIA


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