Los Angeles Gasoline Extends Six-Year Seasonal High on Shutdowns

Spot gasoline in Los Angeles advanced a fourth straight day against futures to the highest seasonal level in at least six years after Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Exxon Mobil Corp. refineries shut units.

Exxon’s 150,000-barrel-a-day Torrance plant took the crude unit out of service yesterday for repairs, Gesuina Paras, a company spokeswoman in Torrance, said by e-mail today. The rest of the refinery is running at about half of normal capacity during the work, which is expected to last as long as two weeks, a person familiar with operations there said.

California-blend gasoline, or Carbob, in Los Angeles gained 2.5 cents against gasoline futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange to a premium of 65 cents a gallon, data compiled by Bloomberg at 1:54 p.m. New York time show.

That’s the fuel’s highest level for this time of year since at least 2008, when Bloomberg’s data for the season begins, and the biggest premium since October, when retail gasoline prices soared amid supply shortages that caused some filling stations in California to shut and refiners to ration sales.

“If wholesale prices are increasing, then retail prices most likely will follow,” Jeffrey Spring, a spokesman for the Automobile Club of Southern California based in Los Angeles, said by e-mail. “It’s just a question of how much. If the Exxon crude unit is expected to be down for only two weeks, then I would expect that the spike would be short-lived, too.”

Prompt-delivery of Carbob in Los Angeles sank 8.03 cents to $3.4371 a gallon.

Retail Prices

Retail gasoline in California climbed a third day, rising 1.5 cents to $4.007 a gallon, Heathrow, Florida-based AAA, the nation’s largest motoring organization, said today on its website. Prices climbed above year-earlier levels yesterday for the first time since February, according to the auto club.

Tesoro Corp. is performing planned repairs at the Carson refinery in Southern California. Chevron Corp.’s 279,000-barrel-a-day El Segundo refinery is scheduled to shut the No. 4 crude unit next month for short-term work and take the No. 2 crude unit out of service in August for weeks-long maintenance, a person familiar with the schedule said June 13.

Carbob in San Francisco strengthened against futures for a fourth straight day, gaining 3 cents to a premium of 49 cents a gallon, the highest level since Oct. 5.

Martinez Trip

Shell’s 165,000-barrel-a-day Martinez refinery in Northern California shut its fluid catalytic cracker late yesterday after a boiler trip, a person familiar with operations at the plant said today. A second boiler at the complex was already shut for maintenance, the person said.

The discount for San Francisco Carbob versus the same fuel in Los Angeles narrowed 0.5 cent to 16 cents a gallon.

The premium for spot, conventional gasoline in Portland, Oregon, a benchmark for the U.S. Pacific Northwest, declined against futures for the first time in eight days, losing 8.5 cents to a premium of 14 cents a gallon.

Portland gasoline’s discount to Los Angeles Carbob widened 11 cents to 51 cents a gallon, the lowest level since Oct. 4.

California-blend, or CARB, diesel in Los Angeles advanced 2.5 cents against ultra-low-sulfur diesel futures on the Nymex to a premium of 4.5 cents a gallon, the highest level in almost two weeks. The fuel in San Francisco weakened 0.5 cent to 2.5 cents a gallon above futures.

Low-sulfur diesel in Portland gained 3.5 cents to reach parity with ULSD futures.

The 3-2-1 crack spread of Alaska North Slope crude, Carbob in Los Angeles and CARB diesel in Los Angeles slipped 40 cents to $32.35 a barrel at 4:17 p.m. New York time. The spread, a rough indicator of short-term refining margins, jumped yesterday to the highest level since Oct. 9.

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