Los Angeles Diesel Advances as Chevron Delays Crude Unit Startup

The premium for spot diesel in Los Angeles surged by the most in seven months after Chevron Corp. said the crude unit at the Richmond refinery was expected to return to service in the second quarter.

The 240,000-barrel-a-day plant had planned to finish repairs and restart the crude unit, shut since an Aug. 6 fire, by the end of this month. The company now expects to complete mechanical work this month and have the unit back in operation in the second quarter, Sean Comey, a spokesman at Chevron’s headquarters in San Ramon, California, said by e-mail.

“Restarting the crude unit and resuming normal operations is a complex process,” Comey said late yesterday. “We are approaching this in a systematic and methodical manner and will take the time necessary to achieve our goals the right way.”

The Richmond refinery hasn’t produced diesel since the blaze, which damaged equipment at the crude unit’s atmospheric column. Chevron has been relying on supplies from other refineries, including its El Segundo plant near Los Angeles, to supply customers in Northern California.

California-blend, or CARB, diesel in Los Angeles jumped 5.12 cents to a premium of 6.5 cents a gallon against heating oil futures traded at 1:48 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange, data compiled by Bloomberg shows. That’s the highest level in four days and the biggest jump since Aug. 7.

The same fuel in San Francisco gained 5 cents to a premium of 12.5 cents a gallon against futures, a two-week high.

Benicia Work

Valero Energy Corp.’s 170,000-barrel-a-day Benicia refinery in Northern California is repairing a hydrogen plant that shut the hydrocracker, which converts heavy hydrocarbons into lighter fuels such as high-grade fuel oil, since the weekend, Bill Day, a company spokesman in San Antonio, said by e-mail yesterday.

California-blend gasoline, or Carbob, in San Francisco widened against Nymex gasoline futures for the first time in four days, falling 6.5 cents to a discount of 14.5 cents a gallon. Carbob in Los Angeles slid 3.5 cents to 12 cents a gallon under futures.

BP Plc’s Carson refinery plans to flare gases from March 17 through March 28, a notice filed with the South Coast Air Quality Management District today shows.

The plant may run at lower rates for several days during work on a fluid catalytic cracker, a person with knowledge of the maintenance said March 12.

In Portland, Oregon, low-sulfur diesel fell by 3.5 cents to premium of 10 cents a gallon against futures, the third straight decline. Conventional, 84-octane gasoline in Portland also weakened 3.5 cents versus gasoline futures to a discount of 7.5 cents a gallon, the fuel’s lowest level since Jan. 23.

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