Crude oil storage capacity in the US is starting to run low according to the latest inventory data by the Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Figures show that storage capacity for crude oil is 60% full across the US – compared to 48% the same time last year. Cushing in Oklahoma has reached 67% capacity compared to 50% the same time last year. Its total working capacity makes up 14% of the national total.
The EIA reports that storage tanks in the Midwest and Gulf Coast – where the majority of stocks are held – were at 69% and 56% capacity respectively, as of February 20.
It is based only on crude oil stored in tanks or underground caverns at tank farms and refineries and does not account for crude in pipelines, lease stocks where oil has not entered the primary supply chain and oil on ships in transit.
Working storage capacity – which is generally thought to be the most useful measure of actual capacity – in the US has increased by 19 million barrels to 521 million barrels in September 2014.
However, it is not possible to fill all working storage capacity as there is a requirement for working storage to be available to be filled at all times to receive deliveries by pipeline, tanker, barge and rail.
‘The exact amount of storage capacity that must be available to maintain operation of crude oil storage and transportation systems is unknown,’ says the EIA.
In Europe the situation is even better for tank operators with reports that nearly all storage tanks are full.