US crude storage capacity — key highlights from the EIA's latest biannual inventory review
The Energy Information Administration (EIA) recently released their latest bi-annual count of crude oil storage volumes held in the US, which includes an assessment of how much additional capacity has been added in recent years.
Here are some key highlights from this latest summary, updated to the first quarter of this year.
1 After a small pullback in 2018, new tank construction has resumed in the US, with almost 22 million barrels of new capacity was added in the past year. Although no where near the construction frenzy of 2014, that's still an increase of over 230 million barrels since the beginning of 2011.
2 After hitting an all-time high of almost 430 million barrels at the beginning of 2017, total US crude inventories have been trending lower in the past few years, bottoming out in September 2018. That trend then reversed, with about 40 million barrels added into Q1/2019.
3The massive Cushing storage terminal in Oklahoma holds over 45 million barrels of crude, representing about one-fifth of all stockpiles held in US tank farms. Cushing has also seen a major increase in storage volumes, rising from 24 million in the fall of 2018, to 45 million in Q1/2019, with utilization rates now approaching 60%.
4Total storage capacity within US tank farms adds up to about 500 million barrels, representing about 75% of total working storage capacity. That compares to about 90 million barrels of storage capacity in Canadian tank farms.
5 Storage volumes by PADD closely mirrors refining capacity by PADD. The Gulf Coast (PADD 3) is home to 52% of total US refining capacity, and therefore holds an equivalent volume of crude in storage.
- Working capacity excludes the bottom section of the tank (inaccessible since a minimum level of crude is required for proper operation of the outlet pumps) and the very top portion of the tank, usually kept empty for safety reasons. As a result, only 85% of the tank's total theoretical volume (shell capacity) is actually useable space (working capacity). Utilization rate is therefore calculated as a function of working capacity.
- Volumes held in Strategic Petroleum Reserves (SPR) and inventories in transit (volumes contained in pipelines and tankers) are excluded from bi-annual commercial inventory volumes, but included in preliminary weekly estimates.
- The next update of US crude storage capacities and inventory volumes is expected to be released in November 2019.