San Francisco Gasoline Weakens as Chevron Seen Starting Unit

Spot gasoline in California weakened against futures for a second day as Chevron Corp.’s Richmond refinery, the largest in Northern California, was said to begin returning the crude unit to service this week.

The 240,000-barrel-a-day plant planned to start restoring operations today at the No. 4 crude unit, shut since an Aug. 6 fire, a person familiar with operations there said April 4. The equipment will take several days to restart, the person said. Chevron, based in San Ramon, California, received clearance for the step from state regulators April 5.

Melissa Ritchie, a Chevron spokeswoman in Richmond, said by e-mail today that the company expects to restart the crude unit this quarter.

California-blend gasoline, or Carbob, in San Francisco fell 1.5 cents against futures traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange to a premium of 6 cents a gallon at 1:57 p.m. New York time, the lowest level in almost a week, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Prompt-delivery of the fuel gained 3.09 cents to $2.9695 a gallon.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s 165,000-barrel-a-day Martinez refinery, northeast of San Francisco, isolated equipment April 6 after a release of “flushing oil and gas,” a statement posted on the company’s website shows. Two workers received medical treatment, according to the statement.

Carbob in Los Angeles weakened 1.5 cents against futures to a premium of 3 cents a gallon.

Torrance Upset

Exxon Mobil Corp.’s 150,000-barrel-a-day Torrance refinery in Southern California had a breakdown in a unit today, Gesuina Paras, a spokeswoman at the plant, said by e-mail. The upset didn’t affect fuel production, she said.

The premium for Carbob in San Francisco versus the fuel in Los Angeles was unchanged at 3 cents a gallon. San Francisco surged to a three-year high against Los Angeles after the Aug. 6 fire at the Richmond refinery.

California-blend diesel in San Francisco was unchanged at 12 cents a gallon above ultra-low-sulfur diesel futures on the Nymex. Diesel in Los Angeles climbed 0.5 cent to 6 cents a gallon above futures.

In Portland, Oregon, low-sulfur diesel was unchanged at a 14.5-cent-a-gallon premium versus ULSD futures. Gasoline there was unchanged at parity with gasoline futures.

The 3-2-1 crack spread of Alaska North Slope crude, Carbob in Los Angeles and CARB diesel in Los Angeles rose for the first time in five days, gaining 97 cents to $17.96 a barrel at 2:01 p.m. New York time. The spread, a rough indicator of refinery profit margins, hit a one-year low of $3.86 a barrel in December.

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