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Los Angeles Gasoline Gains as Refineries Perform Maintenance

Spot gasoline in Los Angeles strengthened against futures after Valero Energy Corp. was said to be shutting an alkylation unit at its Wilmington plant next week and gasoline stockpiles on the West Coast fell.

Valero’s 78,000-barrel-a-day refinery near Los Angeles will shut the unit for about seven to 10 days of repairs on a depropanizer, a person familiar with the plans said yesterday. Bill Day, a spokesman at Valero’s headquarters in San Antonio, said by e-mail that he couldn’t confirm the planned work.

California-blend gasoline, or Carbob, in Los Angeles gained 4.75 cents to 26 cents a gallon against gasoline futures traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 3:51 p.m. East Coast time, data compiled by Bloomberg show. That’s the highest level for the fuel since Oct. 15.

The alkylation unit at Wilmington was shut Dec. 21 to repair a leak, as was the plant’s fluid catalytic cracker. Both units were started last week and the cracker has “not yet reached planned rates,” Day said.

Chevron Corp. and Phillips 66 reported equipment shutdowns and companies including BP Plc and Tesoro Corp. are performing maintenance on process units in Southern California.

West Coast gasoline inventories for the Padd 5 region fell for the first time in five weeks, declining 217,000 barrels to 36 million in the seven days ended Jan. 18, according to the Energy Information Administration, an Energy Department agency. Distillate fuel oil inventories tumbled 7.8 percent to 15.1 million barrels.

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