By JONATHAN FAHEY – Associated Press – NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. has so much crude that it is running out of places to put it, and that could drive oil and gasoline prices even lower in the coming months.
For the past seven weeks, the United States has been producing and importing an average of 1 million more barrels of oil every day than it is consuming. That extra crude is flowing into storage tanks, especially at the country’s main trading hub in Cushing, Oklahoma, pushing U.S. supplies to their highest point in at least 80 years, the Energy Department reported last week.
If this keeps up, storage tanks could approach their operational limits, known in the industry as “tank tops,” by mid-April and send the price of crude — and probably gasoline, too — plummeting.
“The fact of the matter is we are running out of storage capacity in the U.S.,” Ed Morse, head of commodities research at Citibank, said at a recent symposium at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.
Morse has suggested oil could fall all the way to $20 a barrel from the current $50. At that rock-bottom price, oil companies, faced with mounting losses, would stop pumping oil until the glut eased. Gasoline prices would fall along with crude, though lower refinery production, because of seasonal factors and unexpected outages, could prevent a sharp decline.