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U.S. gasoline stocks fell last week according to a government report, which contradicted industry data released by the American Petroleum Institute, and could lead to a gas price increase to kick off the summer driving season.
The Energy Information Administration (EIA), the statistics branch of the Department of Energy, said yesterday U.S. gasoline stocks fell 400,000 barrels to 203.7 million barrels for the week ending May 18.
Earlier in the week, the American Petroleum Institute (API) reported gasoline stocks rose 1.3 million barrels, to 204.5 million barrels.
The EIA/API discrepancy, which has been rare over the last year, is even wider on a year-to-year basis. The EIA shows gasoline stocks are now 4.6 million barrels off last year, while the industry numbers show gasoline stocks are 1.8 above last year, Reuters reported.
Closely watched reformulated gasoline, whose scarcity sparked record spikes in the Midwest last year, fell in both reports. The EIA showed reformulated gasoline fell 1.4 million barrels to 39.9 million barrels or 3.7 million barrels off last year. API showed RFG stocks fell 1.2 million to 39.9 million barrels or 3.3 million off last year, the report said.
This year RFG stocks in the Gulf Coast, which sends RFG to the Midwest, are off 1.2 million barrels according to the API, though RFG stocks in the Midwest are slightly above where they were last year.
Refinery production was up nearly two percent in both reports, but profit margins for making gasoline fell off record levels for the first time in weeks, the report said.