Bloomberg News

Northwest Gasoline at Highest Premium in Four Years on Repairs

October 11, 2011

(Run BMAP 98216 <GO> to locate oil refineries in Washington state.)

Oct. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Spot gasoline in the Northwest extended its highest premium to gasoline futures since at least 2007 as BP Plc, Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Tesoro Corp. conducted work at Washington’s three largest oil refineries.

The premium for conventional, 87-octane gasoline in Portland, Oregon, rose 0.38 cent to 49.38 cents above futures traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 4:24 p.m. in New York, its largest premium, according to data compiled by Bloomberg going back to Nov. 27, 2007. Prompt delivery of the fuel has risen 17 percent to $3.2414 a gallon since Oct. 3.

London-based BP shut two coker heaters and a hydrocracker compressor, among other units, at the 243,000-barrel-a-day Cherry Point refinery for work last week. Shell and Tesoro are conducting maintenance at their refineries in Anacortes, Washington.

“The work is the main driver,” David Hackett, president of energy consultant Stillwater Associates in Irvine, California, said in a telephone interview. “Gasoline stocks in the West are also relatively low, 10 percent lower than last year.”

Motor gasoline inventories on the West Coast dipped 0.8 percent last week to 28.3 million barrels, the lowest level since Sept. 2.

Tesoro Anacortes

Tesoro, based in San Antonio, is conducting “unspecified” maintenance at the 125,000-barrel-a-day Anacortes refinery, Mike Marcy, a company spokesman based in Martinez, California, said in an e-mail today.

“We expect to meet our contractual supply obligations with our customers in the region,” Marcy said.

Tesoro has been working on a supercritical extraction unit, known as a ROSE unit, at the Anacortes refinery since late August. The unit, which refines heavier, residual oils into asphalt, resin and lighter oil products, was initially scheduled to return to service last month.

Hague-based Shell shut several units, including a crude unit, a delayed coker and a catalytic reforming unit, at its own 147,500-barrel-a-day Anacortes plant on Sept. 23 for work scheduled to last until Nov. 8.

BP has not publicly said how long units will be down for work at the Cherry Point refinery.

ConocoPhillips

California-blend gasoline strengthened for the second day after ConocoPhillips was said to shut a hydrotreater that caught fire over the weekend at the 147,000-barrel-a-day Wilmington refinery. The Houston-based company reported flaring today related to a breakdown at the plant, south of Los Angeles.

Rich Johnson, a Conoco spokesman in Houston, declined to comment on the flaring and the status of the hydrotreater.

The premium for Carbob in Los Angeles rose 1.5 cents to 44 cents a gallon versus futures on the Nymex, and in San Francisco the fuel increased the same amount to 43 cents over futures.

Chevron Corp. started maintenance at the 240,000-barrel-a- day Richmond refinery in Northern California Oct. 3 that’s expected to last four to six weeks. An additional 1,650 workers have been brought into the plant to help conduct the work, according to a letter the San Ramon, California-based company sent to residents.

The premium for California-blend diesel in Los Angeles fell 3.5 cents to 12 cents above heating oil futures.

--Editors: Richard Stubbe, David Marino

To contact the reporter on this story: Lynn Doan in San Francisco at ldoan6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Stets in New York at dstets@bloomberg.net


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