On December 10, 2014 2:54 pm
By Mark Shenk / Bloomberg
Refiners in the US used the most oil ever last week, taking advantage of crude prices tumbling to a five-year low.
Plants processed 16.6 million bpd of crude in the week ended Dec. 5, the most in Energy Information Administration data going back to 1989. The rise occurred as futures tumbled to the lowest in more than five years after the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries decided Nov. 27 to maintain output levels and as US production climbed to the highest level in three decades.
The access to cheaper domestic crude and natural gas has enabled US refiners to increase operating rates to above 95% for the first time since 2005, increasing gasoline supply and driving down prices at the pump to the lowest level in more than four years.
Refineries have used more crude in each of the past six weeks as seasonal turnarounds wound down.
“Prices are going down and production is going to continue rising,” said Tom Finlon, Jupiter, Florida-based director of Energy Analytics Group. “The crude needs to be processed into fuels consumers use and the refiners are in that business. They’re ready after performing seasonal maintenance.”