US crude oil inventories rose by 7.102 million barrels in the latest week, which was considerably more than the consensus forecast which called for an increase of 2.7 million barrels. The increase was also the largest single weekly increase in crude oil inventories since July 2010.
The chart below shows weekly US crude oil stockpiles so far in 2012 and compares them to the historical average since 1984 as well as the last ten years. Although crude oil inventories were already above average to start 2012, the spread between actual and average inventory levels has done nothing but go up this year. While inventory levels typically continue to rise over the next six weeks before reaching their seasonal peak, current levels are already well above average. In fact, there have only been five other years since 1984 where crude stockpiles were higher at this time of the year than they currently are now.
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