Top Supplier of Gasoline to U.S. Is Unable to Replenish Tanks
(Bloomberg) -- As U.S. President Joe Biden does everything he can to bring down gasoline prices, one place he won’t get relief is from the nation’s top foreign supplier.
Deliveries of European gasoline to the U.S. plunged last month by 51% month-on-month to about 202,000 barrels per day, the lowest monthly tally since January. The lack of flows come at a time when stockpiles in the largest U.S. importing region -- the East Coast -- are close to the lowest seasonally since 2017.
Weekly exports of European refined fuels, comprising mostly gasoline and blending components, remain subdued this month.
“The arbitrage has been weak all month,” Steve Sawyer, director of refining at Facts Global Energy said. The market condition when traders can profit from the difference in fuel prices in both regions has been hampered by strong gasoline prices in Europe amid a hit to fuel supplies by planned refinery maintenance, he said.
The New York gasoline market, the global benchmark for the fuel, looking tighter by the week -- whether that’s in the form of premiums that traders are paying to book space on a pipe from the Gulf of Mexico, or stockpiles hovering near 7-year lows.
The squeeze on limited European gasoline supplies is also exacerbated by a strong pull from West Africa, Energy Aspects said in a report. European gasoline exports to West Africa are poised to gain month-on-month, with about 600,000 barrels per day shipped in the first 10 days of November, compared to 530,000 in the fourth quarter of 2020, the consultant said.
However, relief may be on the horizon with a rebound in oil-processing activity in the main U.S. refining hub in the Gulf of Mexico. “We are seeing more refining capacity coming back online in the U.S., which will naturally add more gasoline supply,” said Jonathan Leitch, an oil market analyst at Turner, Mason & Co. “This coincides with demand easing off, as for arb cargoes, we have passed the Thanksgiving travel boost.”
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