US ethanol stocks rose 647,000 barrels to a 16-month high of 18.587 million barrels in the week that ended July 25 despite a slight decline in US ethanol production, which dipped 5,000 b/d to 954,000 b/d, US Energy Information Administration data showed Wednesday.
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With weekly production topping 950,000 b/d in consecutive weeks for the first time in nearly three years, inventories strengthened for the first time in three weeks.
Most regions reported builds in supplies. Gulf Coast stocks soared 458,000 barrels to an 18-month high of 3.147 million barrels. East Coast stocks rose 266,000 barrels to a four-week high of 6.787 million barrels, and Midwest stocks ticked up 11,000 barrels to a four-month high of 6.536 million barrels.
West Coast stocks, on the other hand, shed 70,000 barrels to slip a two-month low of 1.847 million barrels, and Rocky Mountain stocks fell 18,000 barrels to 270,000 barrels.
There were 7,000 b/d of imports reported.
The four-week rolling average of gasoline demand fell 40,000 b/d to 8.948 million b/d, while the four-week rolling average of refiner and blender net ethanol input shed 1,000 b/d to 871,000 b/d, a two-month low.
The weekly refiner and blender net ethanol input inched up 5,000 b/d to 877,000 b/d.
As the proportional decline in gasoline demand outweighed the lower blending demand, the four-week rolling average of the ethanol blending rate added 0.03 percentage points to reach 9.73%, 0.27 percentage points shy of the 10% "blend wall."
The blend wall occurs when the maximum amount of the US gasoline pool has been blended to a level of 10% ethanol. Refiners then will be under pressure to run higher ethanol blends, buy renewable credits known as RINs or push for Congress to alter the Renewable Fuel Standard.