(Cushing) – Falling crude oil prices have kept market watchers worldwide tracking what is happening in Cushing, Oklahoma. Each week, the U.S. Dept. Of Energy releases it’s report on inventory levels around the world, and no storage terminals anywhere else on the planet are more closely gauged than at the Cushing storage and terminal facility. In fact, it’s really facilities (adding the plural) because many companies are operating different facets of the pipeline and storage operations, all with differing customers and markets.

When the Energy Dept. issues it weekly report on Wednesdays, the market moves in response. Lately, prices have been pushed downward because the tanks at Cushing, Okla have been full.

Last year when prices were moving the other direction, the tanks weren’t empty, in fact, some of the workers at the various facilities have said the there was plenty of crude oil during the price run-up.

News crews from all over the world have been to Cushing in recent years to see what was so important in Cushing. It is is course the storage tanks and terminals they are coming to see, but it is the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) that helped put Cushing on the map. The NYMEX is where all the oil is traded, and just like a pizza, when you order it, the company that sold it to you has to have a place to deliver it. For the mid west, and consequently much of the rest of the country, the price is based on delivering the product to Cushing.

Many energy analysts believe that inventory levels at Cushing weigh too heavily on markets, and are not necessarily a good indicator of supply levels, and that component should somehow be taken out of the pricing.

Whether the NYMEX makes some sort of change in that regard remains to be seen, but even if there is such a move, it will not change Cushing’s importance in the big scheme of energy things because the tanks won’t be going anywhere, nor the pipelines that carry product to them.

Storage at Cushing has increased substantially in just the last five years, and although the worldwide economy is down right now, energy needs will continue to increase over the long term, which may give “F.O.B. Cushing, Oklahoma”” a nice ring to it for years to come, regardless of the price of crude oil. “