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US crude oil stockpiles decline 5.5 million barrels in week to Dec. 20, 2019

The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that changes in U.S. crude oil and petroleum stockpiles were mixed in the week to Dec. 20, 2019.

U.S. crude oil inventories, excluding the strategic petroleum reserve, declined 5.5 million barrels from the week prior to 441.4 million barrels, according to the agency's Dec. 27, 2019, "Weekly Petroleum Status Report." Total gasoline inventories climbed by 2.0 million barrels to 239.3 million barrels, while distillate inventories slid by 152,000 barrels to 124.9 million barrels.

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Total U.S. crude oil inputs climbed 2.5% on the week to 17.0 million barrels per day for a trailing four-week average of 16.6 million bbl/d, down 4.9% from the same period a year ago and 1.5% below the five-year average. The EIA pegged U.S. refinery utilization at 93.3%, down from the year-ago level of 95.1% and the five-year average of 93.8%, with PADD 1 utilization pegged at 67.1%.

On June 21, 2019, a fire broke out at a 335,000-bbl/d refinery operated by Philadelphia Energy Solutions Inc. in PADD 1, destroying one of the complex's alkylation units. Two weeks before the fire, one of the plant's fluid catalytic cracking units, which converts high-boiling, high-molecular-weight hydrocarbon fractions into products such as gasoline, reportedly had been shut down. The company announced on June 26, 2019, that it would shut down the complex and prepare it for sale.

In late July, Valero Energy Corp. executives said the company was supplying the U.S. East Coast market from its 220,000-bbl/d Pembroke refinery in the U.K. in the wake of the disaster.

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Meanwhile, total U.S. gasoline production was below historical averages. Finished motor gasoline production was up 2.1% from the prior week to bring the trailing four-week average to 10.0 million bbl/d, down 1.7% from the year-ago level and 0.1% below the five-year average.

Distillate production climbed 6.3% on the week, bringing the trailing four-week average to 5.2 million bbl/d, down 6.0% from the same week a year ago and 1.4% below the five-year average.

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