You would think that after underestimating inventory levels practically every week, traders would adjust their expectations accordingly. That still isn't the case this week, though, as crude oil inventories rose more than expected yet again. While traders were expecting crude oil stockpiles to rise by 3 million barrels this week, actual inventories rose by more than two and a half times that at 7.716 million barrels. The chart below compares the current level of crude oil inventories to the historical average levels since 1983 and over the last ten years. Beneath that we also show the gap between each weekly level this year and the historical average.
Two things stand out in these charts. First, as crude oil inventories continue to build, once again this week we have had to adjust our y-axis higher. As a result, the second thing that stands out on the chart is how high current levels are to their historical average. As of the latest report, inventories are currently 100 million barrels (30%) above their historical long term average and have never been higher than they are now.