U.S. Gulf Coast Sour Oils Plunge After Motiva Refinery Shutdown

U.S. Gulf Coast sour oils plunged after Motiva Enterprises LLC shut a new crude unit at the Port Arthur, Texas, refinery for as long as five months.

Motiva, a joint venture between Saudi Arabian Oil Co. and Royal Dutch Shell Plc., will keep the 325,000-barrel-a-day unit closed to repair multiple deficiencies that surfaced during startup earlier this month, a person familiar with the plans said yesterday. The unit was part of a $10 billion expansion that made the Port Arthur refinery the largest in the U.S.

“They are configured to run sour crudes so that is one of the grades that will be pressured,” said Andy Lipow, president of Houston-based Lipow Oil Associates LLC.

Poseidon’s premium to West Texas Intermediate weakened $4.60 to $7.40 a barrel at 1:54 p.m. in New York, the largest drop in a single day since May 26, 2010, when it fell $5.95, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Southern Green Canyon’s premium also narrowed $5.50 to $6.50 a barrel.

Mars Blend’s premium lost $2.25 to $8.75 a barrel. The premium for Thunder Horse, a sour crude with lower sulfur content than Mars, Poseidon and Southern Green Canyon, narrowed $2.20 to $11 a barrel.

Light Louisiana Sweet’s premium to the U.S. benchmark lost $1 to $11.75 a barrel. Heavy Louisiana Sweet’s premium decreased $2.45 to $12.25 a barrel.

Western Canada Select’s discount to WTI narrowed 65 cents to $24.35 a barrel. Syncrude’s discount widened 55 cents to $6.30. Bakken oil’s discount was unchanged at $10.50.

Demand for the largest oil tankers may also weaken as Motiva keeps the Port Arthur crude unit closed, according to Arctic Securities ASA. About 75 very large crude carriers were booked to haul Persian Gulf oil to the U.S. in the first 22 weeks of 2012, a 50 percent jump from 2011 and the highest count on record since 2007, according to the Oslo-based investment bank.

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