Cushing Crude Stockpiles Decline 2.5%, Satellite Survey Shows

Crude oil inventories in Cushing, Oklahoma, fell 2.5 percent on July 14 from July 9, according to data compiled by DigitalGlobe Inc.

Stockpiles held in floating-roof tanks at the hub dropped 898,000 barrels to 35.7 million barrels, satellite images taken by the Longmont, Colorado-based company show. The Department of Energy said July 13 that Cushing inventories including floating and fixed tanks were 37.6 million barrels.

Cushing is the physical delivery point for New York Mercantile Exchange oil futures contracts and the largest crude- trading and storage hub in the U.S. Inventories have risen 0.4 percent this year, buoyed by rising domestic production. The hub has working storage capacity of 48 million barrels, the department said on May 31.

The DigitalGlobe estimate is based on images of all 223 operational floating-top tanks at Cushing, the satellite company said. There are also 116 fixed tanks at the hub.

Cushing’s floating-roof tanks are used mostly to store crude oil, according to Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates LLC in Houston, who estimates that 90 percent of the storage volume in the hub is floating tanks. Fixed-roof tanks are for storing petroleum products with lower vapor pressures, such as jet fuel and distillate, he said.

Some fixed-roof tanks in Cushing may have been retrofitted to with internal floating roofs and be used to store crude oil, according to Lipow. Heavier crudes can also be kept in fixed- roof tanks.

Data Releases

DigitalGlobe data is released twice each week at 10:30 a.m. New York time on Mondays and Fridays. For the Friday release, the information is collected from the previous Saturday through Wednesday. For the Monday release, it’s from the previous Thursday or Friday.

When clouds obscure the satellite view, data is used from the last day in which there was a full collection. In the past week, that was July 14. The highest percent of collection data will be used when cloud cover obscures images during a collection period.

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