Heavy differentials widen on Harvey refining outages
14:42, Sep 1, 2017
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September gasoline futures, which expire Thursday, were already sharply higher, but added to its rise-above $2 a gallon-marking its highest level since July 2015, according to FactSet data, now up 12% at $2.110 a gallon. Usually as summer comes to an end, gas prices begin to fall. Harvey has temporarily knocked out about 15% of US refining capacity.
The average price at the pump nationwide averaged $2.45 per gallon on Thursday - that's 10 cents higher than a week ago and a nickel increase since Wednesday.
Goldman Sachs also predicted that the economic damage to the Gulf Coast will cause a drop in driving that outweighs the loss of the refineries - in other words, that the storm will be a bigger hit to demand for gas than supply. In Minot the price of gasoline jumped at some locations, presumably on word that refinery operations on the Texas coast were effected by the storm.
Meanwhile, the storm is expected to drive up gas prices across the country.
"Gasoline prices moving higher, it does help all of the refiners", said Randy Ollenberger, managing director of oil and gas equity research for BMO Capital Markets in Calgary.
As of Sunday afternoon, about 22 percent, or 379,000 barrels, of Gulf production was idled due to the storm, according to the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. On Thursday, Colonial Pipeline shut down a crucial artery in the nation's fuel supply network that provides more than 3 million barrels of diesel, gasoline and jet fuel daily to major cities from Houston to NY.
In other words, Harvey has disrupted about one-fifth of the country's total refining capability.
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The shutdown of nearly a quarter of USA crude refining capacity in the wake of Hurricane Harvey is presenting a rare opportunity for fuel traders in Asia.
"This hurricane has thrown a spanner in the works and rebalancing is delayed further than expected", Nunan said. Refinery shutdowns and fuel shortage worries have also boosted retail fuel prices, particularly in the USA south and southwest. On Wednesday, Exxon announced the shutdown of its Beaumont, Texas refinery as well due to "operational issues" caused by Harvey.
United States crude oil inventories are now ~14% below their peak and are also below their five-year range.
Initially, companies were closing facilities in Corpus Christi, but the latest closings were on the Houston ship channel.
All of this means there is a lot less supply of gasoline, leading to higher gas prices. "We were well prepared for the hurricane and successfully limited any impacts to four days between Friday and Monday", said spokesman Jay Averill. Restarting plants even under the best conditions can take a week or more.
However, the extreme flooding could prevent some refinery workers from being able to return to work. AAA said it won't, at least not for those of us in the Chicago area, most of whom will be traveling by vehicle. "It's devastating to have your home flooded and deal with that emotional trauma".
He said that "with most people and companies hunkered down, it's hard to get a comprehensive picture".
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