Commercial crude oil inventories in the United States increased by 4.4 million bbl during the week ending Jan. 15 amid an uptick in net imports, according to data published Friday by the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

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Crude inventories excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve increased to 486.6 million bbl for the period, about 9% above the five-year average, the agency said in its latest Weekly Petroleum Status Report, released two days later than usual following the federal holiday for Wednesday’s presidential inauguration.

Total motor gasoline inventories fell 0.3 million bbl and ended the report week about 3% below the five-year average. Distillate fuel inventories increased by 0.5 million bbl to about 8% above the five-year average, while propane/propylene stockpiles fell 6.2 million bbl and finished the week about 11% below five-year norms, according to EIA.

Demand remained well shy of year-ago levels but saw a small increase for the week.

Total U.S. products supplied climbed to 19.642 million b/d, an increase of 35,000 b/d week/week. Motor gasoline demand increased 579,000 b/d to 8.112 million b/d for the week, while jet fuel demand fell 380,000 b/d to 1.087 million b/d.

Over the previous four weeks, total products supplied averaged 18.9 million b/d, down 5.3% year/year, according to EIA. Motor gasoline product supplied averaged 7.8 million b/d over that four-week period, down 9.0% year/year, while distillate fuel supplied was down 0.3% year/year on average and jet fuel product supplied was down 31.7%.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged 6.0 million b/d during the week ended Jan. 15, 194,000 b/d less than the previous week, EIA said. Exports averaged about 2.3 million b/d and were down 760,000 b/d from the prior week, resulting in a 566,000 b/d increase in net imports for the period, EIA data show.

Over the previous four-week period, U.S. crude imports averaged about 5.7 million b/d, down 11.8% from year-ago levels, EIA said.

After taking office on Wednesday, President Biden wasted little time in moving to undo the Trump administration’s deregulatory posture toward fossil fuels. Among Biden’s first actions was to revoke the presidential permit issued to the Keystone XL pipeline in March 2019.

“Together, with rejoining the Paris Climate Accord and reviewing several oil and gas industry regulations that President Trump had lifted, the canceling of the Keystone pipeline is indeed a clear message on the direction the new administration wants to follow, with respect to transitioning away from fossil fuels and into cleaner energy sources,” GlobalData Senior Oil & Gas Analyst Adrian Lara said of the Biden administration’s early actions on energy. 

“Yet, it is still to be seen how measures, such as restricting drilling in federal lands, will impact U.S. production, and how oil and gas companies will react to defend their interests.”