Gasoline Cargoes to U.S. Seen Lower as Refinery Output Gains

The number of gasoline cargoes shipped to the U.S. from ports in northwest Europe is set to drop during the next two weeks as American refineries increase production of the auto fuel, a Bloomberg survey showed.

Traders will charter a total of 22 Medium Range tankers for loading over the 14 days to April 23, according to the median in the survey yesterday of seven shipbrokers and traders specializing in gasoline cargoes. That’s down from 34 vessels, each able to haul about 37,000 metric tons, in last week’s corresponding survey.

Refineries in the world’s largest economy operated at 86.8 percent of capacity in the week ended April 5, the highest level in 12 weeks, according to U.S. Energy Department figures today. Gasoline for delivery in May slid 7.3 percent this month on the New York Mercantile Exchange to $2.88 a gallon at 11:39 a.m. local time.

“U.S. refinery runs are increasing and utilization is increasing,” Ehsan Ul-Haq, a senior market consultant at Walton-on-Thames, England-based KBC Energy Economics, said by phone today. “This is leading to more supplies for the U.S. of summer-grade gasoline.”

Eleven of the 22 charters have been arranged and the rest are anticipated, according to the survey. About 38 vessels will be seeking cargoes, two fewer than last week. Ship bookings are sometimes reported when still provisional and can be canceled.

Tankers on the trans-Atlantic voyage are earning $14,051 daily, according to figures from the London-based Baltic Exchange today. Returns reached this year’s high of $23,325 on Feb. 1.

The survey is based on the industry’s benchmark Rotterdam-to-New York trade route. The voyage takes about 11 days at 12.5 knots, according to the sea-distances.com website.

*T April 9 April 2 Change Ships Hired 11 18 -39% Ships Probably Hired 11 16 -31% Total Hired 22 34 -35% Available Ships, Europe-U.S. 38 40 -5% *T

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