U.S. inventories of diesel and other distillate fuel oils are now critically low after failing to recover during the summer driving season. The shortage will keep upward pressure on diesel refining margins and prices unless and until the global economy and distillate consumption slows significantly. Distillate inventories amounted to just 112 million barrels on Sept. 2, according to high-frequency data published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Stocks are down from 134 million barrels at the same point in 2021 and at the lowest level for the time of year since 1996 (“Weekly petroleum status report”, EIA, Sept. 8). Stocks have barely recovered from a low of 104 million barrels in early May despite large volumes of crude processing over the summer as refiners met seasonal demand from motorists for gasoline. The seasonal accumulation of distillate inventories since the end of June has […]