Refinery Supply Increases Spur a Little Price Relief at the Pump
WASHINGTON, D.C. --- Drivers in some U.S. regions saw prices at the pump dip just a bit this past week, resulting from supply increases. "Crude oil inputs to refineries have risen from about 15 million barrels per day at the end of April to above 15.6 million barrels per day in the last two weeks, albeit still shy of the 16 million barrels per day mark some analysts are looking forward to seeing at some point this summer," the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported last week. "Gasoline production has also increased, averaging 9.3 million barrels per day last week."At the same time, imports have increased. However, inventories still remain well below normal levels, the EIA added.What can fleet managers expect the rest of the summer?"How quickly refineries fully return from both unplanned outages and maintenance, and whether more unplanned outages occur, will have a significant impact on the future path of prices," the EIA said. "Some analysts are expecting to see refinery maintenance remain relatively high even into June. Additionally, high import volumes will be another key to keeping supplies adequate to continue to build stocks relative to normal patterns. How consumers respond to price changes will also be closely watched by analysts."And, of course, political conflicts around the globe also pose a threat to price stability.