Gasoline Rises on Louisiana Refinery Work as Stockpiles Drop

May 29, 2014 3:55 pm ET

May 29 (Bloomberg) -- Gasoline futures climbed in New York after a tornado-damaged Louisiana refinery shut a crude unit and a government report showed U.S. inventories tumbled.

Prices rose 0.3 percent. Marathon Petroleum Corp.’s Garyville, Louisiana, plant, the nation’s third-largest, suffered damage to a cooling tower and shut a crude unit following yesterday’s tornado. Motor fuel stockpiles fell 1.8 million barrels to 211.6 million in the week ended May 23, Energy Information Administration data showed today.

“The Garyville issue is significant because it’s one of the largest refineries in the country and there’s still no indication of how long it’s going to be down,” said Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch & Associates LLC in Galena, Illinois. “The market tends to price in a worst-case scenario.”

Gasoline for June delivery gained 0.77 cent to settle at $3.0136 a gallon on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Volume was 22 percent above the 100-day average at 3:15 p.m. The more actively traded July contract advanced 0.77 cent to $2.9958. June contracts expire tomorrow.

Production of the motor fuel at U.S. refineries dropped 66,000 barrels a day to 9.5 million last week, a second consecutive weekly decline, according to the EIA, the Energy Department’s statistical unit. Gasoline demand as measured by finished product supplied climbed 155,000 barrels a day to 9.1 million in the four weeks ended May 23, the highest level since Aug. 30.

Refinery Work

Marathon expects to keep the crude unit at the Garyville refinery shut while it carries out repairs to the damaged cooling tower, the company said yesterday in an e-mail.

That adds to a list of maintenance projects under way at U.S. Gulf Coast and East Coast plants. PBF Energy Inc.’s Delaware City, Delaware, refinery began work on several units May 27, while Exxon Mobil Corp. conducts crude unit repairs in Chalmette, Louisiana, and Beaumont, Texas.

Alon USA Energy Inc.’s Big Spring, Texas, site this month shut a crude unit and fluid catalytic cracker for a turnaround. The work is expected to be completed in mid-June.

The average U.S. pump price gained 0.1 cent to $3.651 a gallon yesterday, according to Heathrow, Florida-based AAA. That’s 3 cents higher than a year ago.

Ultra low sulfur diesel for June delivery dropped 1.16 cents to $2.919 a gallon. Volume was 19 percent below the 100- day average. Distillate stockpiles slid 196,000 barrels to 116.1 million, the EIA said.