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Gulf Coast Gasoline Weakens as PDVSA Works to Put Out Fire

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Aug. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Gulf Coast gasoline weakened as Venezuelan firefighters worked to contain the latest in a series of fires at the South American country’s largest oil refinery.

Flames and smoke emerged from the Amuay plant at 10:05 a.m. local time, about 30 minutes after Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez told state television that the fires had been extinguished. Petroleos de Venezuela SA, the state oil company known as PDVSA, has put out two fires that began on Aug. 25 after a gas explosion killed 48 people.

The premium for conventional, 87-octane gasoline in the Gulf Coast fell 18 cents to 14 cents versus October futures traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 11:57 a.m., according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Prompt delivery dropped 22.44 cents to $3.0456 a gallon.

Venezuelan product imports from the U.S. nearly doubled in the first five months of 2012 to 38,000 barrels a day from 23,000 in the year-earlier period, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Amuay, which has the capacity to process 645,000 barrels a day, forms part of the Paraguana complex 240 miles west of Caracas. Damage was limited to the storage tanks and Venezuela has had enough gasoline inventories to meet all commitments, Ramirez said.

Venezuela has stockpiles of 4 million barrels of gasoline and other petroleum products and continues to produce 735,000 barrels of the motor fuel a day at plants, including nearby Cardon, according to Ramirez.

The differential for conventional gasoline to be blended with ethanol, or CBOB, in New York Harbor strengthened from parity to 4 cents over futures. It is the highest level since Aug. 7.

Europe inventories of the motor fuel are below the 5-year average for this time of year. Gasoline stockpiles in independent storage in Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp, held at 718,000 metric tons, according to PJK International BV.

To contact the reporter on this story: Paul Burkhardt in New York at pburkhardt@bloomberg.net.

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

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