Gulf Coast Gasoline Strengthens as Motiva Extends Maintenance

Spot gasoline on the U.S. Gulf Coast strengthened as the nation’s largest refinery extended maintenance on a crude unit and coker.

Motiva Enterprises LLC will keep a delayed coker its Port Arthur, Texas, plant shut for another week to 10 days and expects a crude unit to be idled for at least two more weeks for repairs, three people familiar with operations said.

The units have been down since about the middle of February for approximately 38 days of planned work. Maintenance on the crude unit, the smallest of three at the 600,000-barrel-a-day refinery, is running behind schedule and no restart date has been set, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public.

The discount for reformulated, 84-octane gasoline to be blended with ethanol on the Gulf Coast shrank by 2 cents to 4.5 cents a gallon versus futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 1:57 p.m., according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It’s the smallest differential since March 22.

Conventional gasoline for blending with ethanol in Chicago narrowed by 2 cents to a discount of 24 cents a gallon below Nymex futures. Implied gasoline demand in the U.S. rose 0.9 percent last week to 8.4 million barrels a day last week, the U.S. Department of Energy reported yesterday.

“Snow is melting, people are filling their cars, and gasoline is finding its feet,” said Steve Mosby, vice president of supply consultant ADMO Energy LLC.

Ultra-low-sulfur diesel in Chicago strengthened by 3.38 cents to 8.25 cents a gallon above heating oil futures on the Nymex.

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