Gasoline Declines and Crack Spreads Narrow as Refineries Restart

Gasoline futures fell and crack spreads narrowed as refineries in Louisiana and California returned from planned and unplanned maintenance outages.

Futures retreated 0.3 percent. The fuel’s premium over June West Texas Intermediate declined $1.73 to $24.02 a barrel, the lowest since Jan. 22. The spread to Brent narrowed 87 cents to $14.71. Exxon Mobil Corp.’s Chalmette plant in Louisiana finished maintenance on a fluid catalytic cracker, and Chevron Corp. said last week it expects to bring the Richmond site in California to full rates over the coming days.

“We are seeing refineries come back up from maintenance or other issues in the past few weeks,” said Carl Larry, president of Oil Outlooks & Opinions LLC in Houston. “We might be in store for a few more weeks of middling gasoline prices until we see a real pop in demand.”

Gasoline for May delivery fell 0.74 cent to settle at $2.8275 a gallon on the New York Mercantile Exchange on volume that was 34 percent below the 100-day average.

The more actively traded June contract slipped 0.53 cent to $2.822. May gasoline and ultra-low-sulfur diesel contracts will expire at the 2:30 p.m. close of floor trading tomorrow.

Gasoline at the pump, averaged nationwide, was unchanged at $3.50 a gallon, AAA said on its website today.

Ultra-low-sulfur diesel for May delivery dropped 0.05 cent to settle at $2.9007 a gallon on the Nymex. Trading volume was 32 percent below the 100-day average.

Diesel for June delivery gained 0.07 cent to $2.8668 a gallon.

ULSD’s crack spread versus June West Texas Intermediate crude fell $1.47 to $25.91 a barrel. The spread versus Brent decreased 62 cents to $16.60.