Crude oil inventories saw a larger than expected decline again this week falling by 4.4 million barrels versus expectations for a decline of 1.6 million barrels. As shown in the top chart, crude oil inventories continue to follow their historical pattern of declining (albeit from higher levels) throughout the summer months and should continue to do so through mid-September. Even after this week’s decline, though, crude oil stockpiles are 123 million barrels (35.5%) above their historical average.
While it is common for crude oil stockpiles to decline at this time of year, recent drawdowns have been consistently larger than expected. Over the last 17 weeks, there have only been five weeks where inventories saw larger than expected builds. Additionally, over the last ten weeks total inventories have declined by 24.1 million barrels.