This week, EIA began to provide monthly data on rail movements of crude oil, which have significantly increased over the past five years. The new data on crude-by-rail (CBR) movements are integrated with EIA’s existing monthly petroleum supply statistics, which already include crude oil movements by pipeline, tanker, and barge. The new monthly time series of crude oil rail movements going back to January 2010 includes shipments to and from Canada, and dramatically reduces the absolute level of unaccounted-for volumes shown as “adjustments” in EIA’s monthly balances for each region.

Previous editions of This Week in Petroleum addressed receipts of crude oil to East Coast (PADD 1) and West Coast (PADD 5) refineries via rail using the proxy unaccounted-for supply, the difference between crude oil supplied for refinery runs and crude oil from field production, imports, stock changes, and movements from other PADDs via pipeline, tanker, or barge (as seen in Figures 1 and 2). PADD 1 rail receipts, primarily from the Williston Basin, have increased 31% since January 2014, rising from 354,000 barrels per day (bbl/d) to 463,000 bbl/d in January 2015. The introduction of PADD 1 rail receipts data reduced the January 2015 unaccounted-for supply from 572,000 bbl/d to 109,000 bbl/d. A similar situation exists in PADD 5, where crude-by-rail supplies have almost doubled since January 2014 from 98,000 bbl/d to 187,000 bbl/d in January 2015. In January 2015, the incorporation of rail receipts into the PADD 5 petroleum balance reduced unaccounted-for crude supply from 250,000 bbl/d to 63,000 bbl/d.

Inter-PADD crude-by-rail data has been incorporated into EIA’s regional crude oil balances, allowing direct analysis of crude oil shipments and receipts by mode. Gross and net shipment and receipt totals as well as the crude oil adjustments have been revised to include the rail data. Unlike pipeline and waterborne modes, EIA’s crude-by-rail movements data include inter-PADD, intra-PADD, and movements between the United States and Canada.

EIA developed the new series using information provided by the U.S. Surface Transportation Board (STB) along with data from Canada’s National Energy Board, other third-party sources, and EIA survey data, as shown in Figure 3.

EIA uses both the STB Carload Waybill Sample and Quarterly Commodity Statistics to calculate rail movements in carloads. Railroads that terminate, meaning delivery to final destination, more than 4,500 carloads per year in the United States must submit a Carload Waybill Sample quarterly to the STB. The sampling rate varies with the number of carloads in the waybill. The Waybill Sample provides the origin and destination terminal of each completed movement, which EIA aggregates by PADD and month. These trends are applied against the Quarterly Commodity Statistics reported by type of movement by the seven Class 1 railroads. A barrel-per-carload factor is calculated quarterly from carload weights and API gravities of crudes produced in the United States and Canada, and used to convert the carloads to barrels for integration with other EIA crude oil data series. For near months in between release of quarterly STB data, CBR data are modeled using other available EIA crude oil data like field production, refinery inputs, imports, and exports, as well as lagged crude-by-rail data. Like all of EIA’s monthly petroleum data, the new CBR data are subject to revision as new information becomes available. These near-month estimates will be updated upon receipt of quarterly information from STB. EIA and the Association of American Railroads (AAR) are currently exploring opportunities for EIA to utilize monthly AAR carload data to refine the near-month CBR data.

U.S. average gasoline and diesel fuel prices decrease

The U.S. average price for regular gasoline decreased one cent from the previous week to $2.45 per gallon as of March 30, 2015, $1.13 per gallon less than the same time last year. The East Coast and Rocky Mountain prices each rose one cent, to $2.37 per gallon and $2.31 per gallon, respectively. The West Coast price fell five cents to $3.00 per gallon. The Midwest price decreased one cent to $2.38 per gallon, while the Gulf Coast price was down less than a penny to remain at $2.19 per gallon.

The U.S. average price for diesel fuel decreased four cents from the week prior to $2.82 per gallon, down $1.15 per gallon from the same time last year. The West Coast price fell six cents to $2.95 per gallon. The Midwest, Gulf Coast, and East Coast prices were each down four cents, to $2.73 per gallon, $2.68 per gallon, and $2.99 per gallon, respectively. The Rocky Mountain price decreased two cents to $2.74 per gallon.

Residential heating fuel prices decrease

As of March 30, 2015, residential heating oil prices averaged nearly $2.89 per gallon, 4 cents per gallon lower than last week. Wholesale heating oil prices averaged almost $1.86 per gallon, 4 cents per gallon lower than last week.

Residential propane prices averaged $2.29 per gallon, 3 cents per gallon lower than last week. The average wholesale propane price increased by nearly 1 cent per gallon this week to just under 64 cents per gallon.

This is the last data collection for the 2014-2015 SHOPP heating season. Data collection will resume on October 5, 2015 for publication on Wednesday, October 7, 2015.

Propane inventories gain

U.S. propane stocks increased by 2.4 million barrels last week to 57.4 million barrels as of March 27, 2015, 30.8 million barrels (115.9%) higher than a year ago. Gulf Coast inventories increased by 1.4 million barrels and Midwest inventories increased by 1.0 million barrels. East Coast inventories decreased by 0.2 million barrels while Rocky Mountain/West Coast inventories were unchanged. Propylene non-fuel-use inventories represented 8.2% of total propane inventories.