Gasoline at U.S. pumps gained for the first time in four weeks, rebounding from a 33-month low, as a fire at Citgo Petroleum Corp.’s refinery in Illinois lifted prices in the Midwest.
Regular, unleaded gasoline at filling stations increased 2.5 cents from a week earlier to $3.219 a gallon, rising from the lowest level since Feb. 21, 2011, the Energy Information Administration said on its website yesterday. Prices are about 6 percent below year-earlier levels. The biggest gain was in the Midwest, where prices climbed by more than 5 cents to $3.126.
U.S. retail gasoline has declined nine out of the past 11 weeks as refiners restored plant operations after seasonal maintenance and produced a record amount of the motor fuel amid lower crude prices. Pump prices rose the past week after an Oct. 23 fire at Citgo’s Lemont refinery and shutdowns at plants that supply fuel to the country’s east.
“Softening crude prices are being offset by supply disruptions,” David Hackett, the president of Stillwater Associates, an energy markets consultant in Irvine, California, said by phone yesterday. “Crude seems to be trading in a narrow range and, if anything, is trading down. As long as crude stays soft, retail should soften with it.”
West Texas Intermediate crude for December delivery slid as much as 0.1 percent to $92.90 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange today. Futures have lost 3.5 percent in November after two months of declines.
Citgo, the Houston-based unit of Venezuela’s state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela SA, shut a crude unit at its 170,500 barrel-a-day Lemont refinery after the blaze, which damaged the vacuum distillation section. It resumed the atmospheric portion of the unit on Nov. 11.
Irving Oil Corp.’s 298,800 barrel-a-day Saint John refinery in New Brunswick, Canada, which supplies fuel markets in the eastern U.S., was restarting the catalytic cracker on Nov. 5 after repairs. The unit had been closed since Oct. 29, according to Genscape Inc., an energy information provider in Louisville, Kentucky, which uses cameras and heat sensors to determine refinery operations.
The fluid catalytic cracker at Delta Air Lines Inc.’s Trainer refinery in Pennsylvania was also back online on Oct. 31 after shutting Oct. 28 for unplanned work, the company said. The plant has a capacity of 185,000 barrels a day.
Retail gasoline rose in the U.S. East Coast, Midwest and Gulf Coast, while the fuel in the Rocky Mountain and West Coast regions declined, according to the EIA. The Energy Department’s statistical arm collects data from about 800 filling stations as of 8 a.m. local time on Mondays.
The lowest price the past week was on the Gulf Coast, averaging $3.004 a gallon, while the West Coast had the most expensive at $3.467.
Gasoline futures for December delivery in New York dropped as much as 0.3 percent in electronic trading to $2.6485 a gallon today. Prices are down for a third day.
U.S. gasoline production surged 13 percent to 9.43 million barrels a day in the week ended Nov. 8, the fastest rate for that period since at least 1982, when the EIA began compiling the data. Stockpiles of the motor fuel were at 209.2 million barrels, the highest seasonal level in three years.