Gulf Gasoline Slumps as Exxon, Phillips 66 Restart Units

U.S. Gulf Coast gasoline weakened as Exxon Mobil Corp. and Phillips 66 restarted units at two Texas refineries.

The No. 3 fluid catalytic cracker at Exxon’s Baytown refinery returned to normal operations yesterday after an upset on Feb. 22, according to Nicholas Scinta, a company spokesman based in Houston.

Phillips 66’s Sweeny refinery, which began scheduled maintenance on Jan. 7, was restarting production units including a pipestill and sulfur recovery unit, according to two people familiar with the operations who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public. Rich Johnson, a Phillips 66 spokesman, said maintenance is still under way.

The Sweeny and Baytown refineries can process as much as 831,000 barrels a day, or 9.5 percent of capacity on the Gulf Coast, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Reformulated gasoline to be blended with ethanol on the Gulf slipped 1.5 cents to trade at a discount of 1.5 cents a gallon below futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 2:29 p.m. Conventional, 87-octane gasoline dropped 1.75 cents to 3 cents below futures.

Refineries in the region processed 7.14 million barrels of crude and other feedstock in the week ended Feb. 15, compared with 7.4 million barrels in the week-earlier period, Energy Information Administration data show. Operators used 81.8 percent of capacity, the lowest level since Sept. 7.

Utilization Rate

“Refinery utilization rates are at their lowest level since the beginning of maintenance season some three weeks ago,” said Tom Finlon, Jupiter, Florida-based director of Energy Analytics Group LLC.

The 3-2-1 crack spread, or a measure of refining profitability based on West Texas Intermediate in Cushing, Oklahoma, dropped 89 cents to $36.75 a barrel. The same spread for Light Louisiana Sweet oil gained 96 cents to $15.60 a barrel. Gulf Coast reformulated gasoline traded 1 cent above the same fuel in the New York Harbor.

Refiners in New York profited $16.05 a barrel based on Brent oil prices in Europe. That’s up 52 cents from Feb. 22. Reformulated, 84-octane gasoline in the region dropped 0.25 cent to 2.5 cents a gallon.

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