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Gasoline Gains as East Coast Supply Shrinks, Imports Fall

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Sept. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Gasoline rose for the first time in four days as inventories of the motor fuel on the East Coast shrank and imports declined.

Futures jumped 2.7 percent as East Coast stockpiles of reformulated gasoline, or RBOB, are at a four-year low, according to Energy Department data. Gasoline imports into New York Harbor slid 45 percent last week. Prices at the pump have fallen for six consecutive days, according to AAA data.

“Gas prices have dropped and there’s tightness in the Harbor,” said Gene McGillian, an analyst and broker at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut. “But this may be a correction rather than a sign the market’s turning higher.”

Gasoline for October delivery rose 7.54 cents to settle at $2.904 a gallon on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after falling 6.2 percent the prior three days.

The October contract’s premium over November futures widened 2.18 cents to 12.31 cents a gallon.

October futures touched $2.9172 after a report that Motiva Enterprises LLC is still trying to repair the gasoline-producing units at its Convent, Louisiana, refinery, which was shut Aug. 28 because of Hurricane Isaac, according to two people familiar with operations.

Regular gasoline at the pump slipped 0.8 cent to $3.846 a gallon yesterday and has dropped 2.5 cents in six days of declines, AAA data show. Prices reached a 2012 high of $3.936 on April 4.

U.S. gasoline inventories fell 1.41 million barrels to 196.3 million last week, the eighth consecutive decline and the lowest level since October 2008.

Irving Refinery

Futures also gained as Irving Oil Corp.’s Saint John refinery in New Brunswick shut a fluid catalytic cracker, according to Genscape Inc. The 298,800-barrel-a-day refinery exports half of its output to the U.S. Northeast.

“RBOB inventories are low, imports were substantially down and there’s the unscheduled shutdown of a gasoline-producing unit that supplies the Northeast,” said Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates LLC in Houston.

Petroleos de Venezuela SA, the state oil company, is battling a naphtha tank fire at its El Palito refinery, boosting speculation that there will be more demand for shipments from the U.S. to South America. The U.S. exported 374,000 barrels a day of gasoline last week, according to preliminary Energy Department data.

“Products exports are high, we are becoming more sensitive to South American gasoline demand and supply and we have the capacity and willingness to export more,” said Hamza Khan, an analyst at the Schork Group Inc., a consulting company in Villanova, Pennsylvania.

Heating oil for October delivery rose 5.35 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $3.0975 a gallon a gallon on the exchange, after declining 6 percent the first three days of the week.

To contact the reporter on this story: Barbara J Powell in Dallas at bpowell4@bloomberg.net

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

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