February 24, 2018

Oil pulls back further as Harvey continues to weigh

03 September 2017, 08:54 | Frank Carlson

Storm Harvey paralyses a fifth of US fuel output

Valero Refinery Houston Reuters

As a result, drivers around the country were on average paying 11 extra cents for a gallon of gas, according to GasBuddy, an app that crowdsources gas prices.

Gasoline stocks USOILG=ECI rose by 35,000 barrels, compared with analysts' expectations in a Reuters poll for a 1.0 million-barrel drop. When the refineries were shut down last week, USA inventory was increasing at a rate of 1.4 million barrels per day.

New pipelines and rail capacity helped Canadian oil producers quadruple their exports to the Gulf Coast over the past four years, with the total reaching 412,000 barrels a day in May, Energy Department data show.

AAA said the $2.28 per gallon cost, put into historical context, is the second lowest Labor Day weekend price in the past 13 years. They were trading 1.4 percent up at $46.58 a barrel at 1352 GMT.

Phillips 66, which earlier this week requested an emergency shipment from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, has asked for a Jones Act Waiver.

The storm, which lashed Louisiana with rain on Thursday, has pummeled the U.S. Gulf Coast, immersing Houston, Texas, and the surrounding area in several feet of water and forcing the closure of about a quarter of U.S. refining capacity. Gasoline futures are at the highest in two years, and the fuel's premium to crude is at a 16-month high.

Global benchmark Brent crude was at $51.22, up 36 cents from the previous session, when the contract fell more than 2%.

"When Katrina and Rita hit, crude prices went up because so much of our production in 2005 was offshore and the storms just halted it", he said.

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"With sharply rising flows from Europe to the U.S. Gulf, we're also seeing a massive spike in crack spreads", Carsten Fritsch, an analyst at Commerzbank AG, said by phone of the European gasoline market.

"Everything is fine until you get a surge in demand", said Alan Gelder, vice president of refining and oil at Wood Mackenzie, adding that "the fear of shortages. can actually create shortages".

Meanwhile, the API data on the decline in the reserves of "black gold" in the USA have little effect on the cost of oil.

Gasoline prices traded 3% lower on Friday, beginning September down after a whopping 25% rally in August, while crude futures also fell on the notion that supplies may be adequate despite disruptions to oil refining and drilling from Hurricane Harvey.

The longer the refineries take to resume operation, the greater the likelihood of congestion occurring at the nation's oil hubs, which could work its way back to North Dakota, he said.

"As a result, increased gasoline flows from Europe to the US will continue at least for three to four weeks".

Strong levels of oil production have thankfully left the country with ample stockpiles of gas and oil that can cushion the impact of Harvey. "But by the end of September, I expect the situation to be nearly back to normal", said Frank Schallenberger, head of commodity research at LBBW. Even more production could see quality affected, which can drive up demand and prices for commercial-grade cotton.

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