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Image courtesy of City Hall, Cushing OK/Wikimedia Commons.

Crude storage utilization rates are climbing despite expanding storage capacity.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, weekly U.S. commercial crude oil inventories have grown by more than 71 million barrels, or 15 percent, since the end of September.

Those gains have increased crude oil storage capacity utilization to a near record high of 73 percent for the week ending June 10, the EIA said.

From September 2015 to March 2016, the United States added 34 million barrels, or 6 percent, of working crude oil storage capacity.

That expansion was the largest expansion of commercial crude oil storage capacity since the EIA started tracking data in 2011.

Image courtesy of the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

“Despite the large expansion in crude oil storage capacity, the net effect of capacity growth and increased inventories resulted in high storage utilization rates,” the EIA said.

Storage utilization at Cushing, Oklahoma, averaged 87 percent during the past four weeks, up from 81 percent during the same period last year.

U.S. Gulf Coast region storage utilization rates averaged 72 percent over the last four weeks.

The U.S. Gulf Coast region has not seen utilization rates surpass 70 percent at any point in the previous four year, the EIA said.

The Midwest and Gulf Coast regions have seen the largest commercial crude oil storage capacity expansions since September.

The Midwest region added 19 million barrels while the Gulf Coast region added 13 million barrels.

Those two regions accounted for a combined 82 percent of total U.S. commercial crude oil storage capacity.

Within the Midwest, storage capacity at Cushing, expanded 1.5 million barrels, the EIA said.

The EIA currently expects global petroleum and other liquid fuels inventory builds to average 1 million barrels per day in 2016.

The agency expects inventory builds to continue at a slower rate into 2017 and average 0.3 million bpd for the year.