Chicago Gasoline Weakens as Refineriest Increase Runs

Spot gasoline weakened versus futures for a second day in Chicago as refineries boosted processing by the most in 20 months and area supplies grew.

Refiners in the Midwest, the PADD 2 region, increased processing of crude and other feedstock by 272,000 barrels to 3.38 million in the week ended March 15, the biggest increase since July 2011, according to the Energy Information Administration, the statistical arm of the Energy Department. Inventories rose 157,00 barrels to 53.9 million.

The discount for conventional, 85-octane gasoline, or CBOB, in Chicago slipped 8.75 cents to 21 cents a gallon below futures traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 2:34 p.m., according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Ultra-low-sulfur diesel strengthened 1 cent to a premium of 9.50 cents a gallon above Nymex heating oil futures.

The processing and inventory increases may have been aided by the scheduled restart of some units at Marathon Petroleum Corp. (MPC)’s 240,000-barrel-a-day Catlettsburg, Kentucky, refinery, which has been in a turnaround since early February, according to state regulators. The plant was to restart a fluid catalytic cracker and sulfur recovery unit between March 9 and March 11, a Feb. 6 filing showed.

Shane Pochard, a company spokesman based in Findlay, Ohio, confirmed at the time that the dates provided to state regulators were correct. He declined today to comment until all Catlettsburg refinery work is complete.

The 3-2-1 crack spread in Chicago, a measure of refining profitability for gasoline and diesel based on West Texas Intermediate in Cushing, Oklahoma, declined $3.54 to $29.01 a barrel, the lowest level in three weeks, data compiled by Bloomberg showed.

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