U.S. crude oil inventories increased by a total of 1.3 million bbl last week, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). This is the first time in three weeks the U.S. has seen a build in inventories, which typically see drawdowns throughout the summer. At 417.9 million bbl, crude inventories in the U.S. are 85 million bbl lower than they were at this time last year.
The surprise build in total crude stocks gave market observers pause amid a slew of other factors influencing the oil market, including increasing geopolitical factors – in Iran, Libya, and Venezuela – potentially destabilizing global supply and high crude exports from the U.S. In addition, tighter oil supplies, as global crude demand continues to grow, has helped to increase the price per barrel of crude this year. For drivers in the U.S., the increase in crude prices has contributed to higher pump prices this summer. Today’s national average for unleaded regular gasoline is $2.87, which is 64 cents higher than this time last summer.