Los Angeles Gasoline Climbs a Fifth Day on Exxon Crude Unit Work

Spot gasoline in Los Angeles strengthened against futures for a fifth day as Exxon Mobil Corp.’s Torrance refinery began shutting equipment, including the crude unit and a coker, for maintenance.

The 150,000-barrel-a-day Torrance plant near Los Angeles has halted catalytic hydrodesulfurization and sulfur recovery units for the turnaround, Gesuina Paras, a spokeswoman at the site, said by e-mail today. Work will also be performed on the crude unit, the alkylation unit, a hydrogen plant and one of the cokers, she said.

“The overall duration of the maintenance is expected to last several weeks,” Paras said. “Although we anticipate impact to production, Exxon Mobil expects to be able to meet its contractual commitments.”

California-blend gasoline, or Carbob, in Los Angeles jumped 3.5 cents to a premium of 30.5 cents a gallon versus futures traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest level since Feb. 19, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The fuel strengthened 16.5 cents a gallon last week, the biggest gain since the seven days ended Jan. 25.

Stockpiles of California-blend gasoline are at a record low as scheduled refinery repairs and unplanned unit shutdowns cut production. Inventories declined 11 percent in the week ended April 26 to 4.01 million barrels, data compiled by the state Energy Commission show.

Valero Wilmington

The fluid catalytic cracker at Valero Energy Corp.’s Wilmington plant is back at planned rates after a pump upset May 1, Bill Day, a spokesman at company headquarters in San Antonio, said by e-mail today. A lube-oil leak at Chevron Corp.’s El Segundo refinery today didn’t affect routine operations, Rod Spackman, a spokesman at the plant, said by e-mail.

Carbob in San Francisco dropped 6 cents versus futures to a premium of 22 cents a gallon, the first decline in five days.

Chevron’s 240,000-barrel-a-day Richmond refinery, the largest in Northern California, reported flaring last week related to the restart of its crude unit, which had been shut since a fire Aug. 6, Melissa Ritchie, a spokeswoman at the plant, said by e-mail May 3. The refinery is bringing other units at the complex back online, she said.

Carbob in San Francisco tumbled 9.5 cents to a discount of 8.5 cents a gallon against the fuel in Los Angeles, the lowest level in two months.

Conventional gasoline in Portland, Oregon, gained against Nymex futures for the sixth straight day, rising 3 cents to a premium of 42 cents a gallon, the highest level since October.

Diesel Prices

Low-sulfur diesel in Portland strengthened 0.5 cent to a premium of 4.5 cents a gallon against ultra-low-sulfur diesel futures on the Nymex, a two-week high.

California-blend, or CARB, diesel in San Francisco rose 2 cents to a discount of 3.5 cents against ULSD futures. The same fuel in Los Angeles slipped 0.25 cent to 4.75 cents a gallon under futures.

The 3-2-1 crack spread of Alaska North Slope crude, Carbob in Los Angeles and CARB diesel in Los Angeles widened a fifth day, gaining $1.64 to $22.93 a barrel. The spread, a rough indicator of refinery margins, is at the highest level in more than two months.