Over the past few days, global crude oil prices have declined because of ample supply compared with demand, with U.S. crude prices falling more than Brent. As a result, the Brent-WTI spread has widened, reaching $6.79 on August 6. WTI prices have been affected by a decline in PADD 2 refinery runs, which operated at 3.8 million bbl/d (100.3% utilization) in early July. Since then, PADD 2 refinery runs have fallen 247,000 bbl/d (6%). Seasonally, U.S. refinery runs typically decline from July to August, falling by an average of 174,000 bbl/d in the past five years. With lower refinery demand, stocks at Cushing halted their decline, rising 83,000 barrels for the week ending August 1. Cushing stock had declined an average of 1 million barrels per week over the prior three weeks, reducing Cushing stocks by 14%. While the recent stock build is minor compared to overall inventory levels, the gain is in contrast to substantial stock draws in July.
Gasoline and diesel fuel prices decrease
The U.S. average price for regular gasoline as of August 4, 2014 was $3.52 per gallon, down 2 cents from the previous week, and 12 cents lower than last year at the same time. Prices decreased in all regions of the nation except the Midwest, which saw an increase of one cent to $3.42 per gallon. The East Coast and Gulf Coast had the largest decreases, falling four cents to $3.50 per gallon and $3.31 per gallon, respectively. The West Coast followed, down three cents to $3.89 per gallon. The Rocky Mountain price decreased less than a penny, to $3.64 per gallon.
The average U.S. diesel fuel price decreased by half a cent to $3.85 per gallon, down six cents from the same time last year. Diesel prices in every region decreased, with the Gulf Coast and Rocky Mountain prices both down a penny, to $3.75 per gallon and $3.88 per gallon, respectively. The East Coast, Midwest, and West Coast prices all decreased less than a penny, remaining at $3.91 per gallon, $3.80 per gallon, and $4.02 per gallon, respectively.
Propane inventories continue to rise
U.S. propane stocks increased by 1.3 million barrels last week to 68.5 million barrels as of August 1, 2014, 6.7 million barrels (10.8%) higher than a year ago. Gulf Coast inventories increased by 1.0 million barrels and Midwest inventories increased by 0.5 million barrels. East Coast inventories decreased by 0.2 million barrels while Rocky Mountain/ West Coast inventories remained unchanged. Propylene non-fuel-use inventories represented 6.1% of total propane inventories.