By Aaron Clark
Crude oil inventories in Cushing, Oklahoma, fell 2.3 percent on Nov. 25 from Nov. 17, according to data compiled by DigitalGlobe Inc. (DGI)
Stockpiles held in floating-roof tanks at the hub dropped 646,000 barrels to 27.7 million, satellite images taken by the Longmont, Colorado-based company show. The Energy Department said last week that Cushing inventories, including floating and fixed tanks, totaled 32 million barrels as of Nov. 18.
Cushing is the physical delivery point for New York Mercantile Exchange oil futures contracts and the largest crude- trading and storage hub in the U.S.
The DigitalGlobe estimate is based on images of 236 operational floating-top tanks at Cushing, the satellite company said. The number of fixed-roof tanks at the hub is 81.
The hub has a total capacity of just over 70 million barrels and working storage capacity of about 58 million barrels, according to Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates LLC in Houston.
Cushing’s floating-roof tanks are used mostly to store crude oil, according to Lipow, who estimates that over 95 percent of the storage volume in the hub is floating tanks. Fixed-roof tanks are for storing petroleum products with lower vapor pressures, such as jet fuel and distillate, he said.
Some fixed-roof tanks in Cushing may have been retrofitted with internal floating roofs and may be used to store crude oil, according to Lipow.
DigitalGlobe data is released twice each week at 10:30 a.m. New York time on Mondays and Fridays. For the Friday release, the information is collected from the previous Saturday through Wednesday. For the Monday release, it’s from the previous Thursday or Friday.
When clouds obscure the satellite view, data is used from the last day in which there was a full collection. The highest percent of collection data will be used when cloud cover obscures images during a collection period.
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