The recent dramatic narrowing of the WTI discount to Brent to around $3/Bbl (from $23/Bbl in February) took place at the same time as Cushing, OK crude inventories fell by 23 percent. Both these events have been trumpeted as signaling an end to the three-year logjam preventing landlocked crude supplies from reaching the Gulf Coast by pipeline. Yet the turnaround in Cushing inventories owes as much to declining inflows to Cushing from Canada and West Texas as it does to a flood of crude to the Gulf Coast. An uptick in refinery consumption in the Midwest and falling prices on the CME NYMEX West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures market (backwardation) have also played an important part in the drop in Cushing inventories. Today we look at what lies behind the crude inventory slide.
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