Gasoline Jumps on Speculation Shutdowns Will Reduce Supplies

Gasoline and ultra-low-sulfur diesel gained on speculation that unplanned shutdowns and seasonal maintenance will crimp fuel supplies.

Futures rose as the Energy Information Administration reported yesterday that refinery utilization fell 2.2 percentage points to 90.3 percent last week. Gasoline production dropped 2.8 percent to the lowest level since May and output of distillates shrank to a three-month low.

“There’s an expectation that maintenance and turnarounds are going to start to lower what are high-capacity utilization numbers,” said Addison Armstrong, director of market research at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut.

Gasoline for October delivery rose 3.21 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $2.705 a gallon on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Trading volume was 30 percent below the 100-day average for the time of day. Prices are down 3.8 percent this year and 1.7 percent in the third quarter.

BP Plc’s 160,000-barrel-a-day Toledo, Ohio, refinery is running at reduced rates after the unplanned shutdown on Sept. 24 of the sulfur recovery complex. Motiva Enterprises LLC’s Port Arthur, Texas, 600,000-barrel-a-day refinery, the largest in the U.S., reported a process incident yesterday and flaring from a fluid catalytic cracker and alkylation unit.

“Maintenance season is in full swing in Europe and starting in the U.S.,” said Amrita Sen, chief oil market strategist at Energy Aspects Ltd., a research company in London. “Significant volumes of unplanned outages are reducing supplies further.”

Crack Spreads

The motor fuel’s crack spread versus West Texas Intermediate crude widened 97 cents to $9.90 a barrel, down from $13.73 on Aug. 30. The fuel’s premium over Brent rose $1.34 to $4.61.

Pump prices, averaged nationwide, fell 1.3 cents to $3.434 a gallon, 37.1 cents below a year ago, Heathrow, Florida-based AAA said today on its website.

Ultra-low-sulfur diesel for October delivery rose 3.06 cents, or 1 percent, to $3.0037 a gallon on trading volume that was 16 percent below the 100-day average. Futures have dropped 1.4 percent this year and are up 4.3 percent in the third quarter.

ULSD’s crack spread versus WTI widened 81 cents to $22.94 a barrel. The premium over Brent increased $1.18 to $17.65.

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