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US EIA says Midwest gasoline stocks fall for first time in 3 months

Stocks of gasoline in the US Midwest contracted for the first time inthree months in the week ended March 9, Energy Information Administration datashowed Wednesday.

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Last week Midwest stocks fell 817,000 barrels to reach 60.07 millionbarrels. This was the first decline in Midwest stocks since the week endedDecember 15, 2017.

Historically, Midwest stocks tend to build higher in January and Februaryas the region prepares for seasonal turn around maintenance at localrefineries. This is why, from 2015-2017, Midwest stocks hit their highs forthe year in February.

S&P Global Platts refinery data shows that multiple Midwest refineriesare in the midst of seasonal repair work including the consortium-controlledWood River Refinery in Illinois, PBF's Toledo refinery, and HFC's refinery inTulsa, Oklahoma.

With some local refineries under maintenance, Midwest refineryutilization fell from 89.8% of their total operational capacity down to 89.5%.This is more or less the same level of refining activity seen at this timelast year, which the EIA reported at 90.7%.

Midwest stocks fell last week amid a decline in imports into the area,which fell from 21,000 b/d in the prior week to reach 14,000 b/d last week.

Midwest stocks also declined amid a healthy rise in US gasoline demand,as measured by product supplied, which rose 366,000 b/d. The EIA does notbreak this figure out by PADD regions and it is unclear what portion of thisrise in demand came from the Midwest.

--Seth Clare, seth.clare@spglobal.com

--Edited by Derek Sands, derek.sands@spglobal.com