Gasoline jumps 4 pct, oil mixed as storm hits more refineries

Posted August 31, 2017

USA crude oil futures extended their slide on Tuesday while gasoline prices jumped another 3% to 2-year highs as more refineries in Texas closed in the aftermath of a weekend hurricane, amplifying concerns that crude stockpiles will balloon in the near term while fuel supplies run short.

While Hurricane Harvey itself had weakened to a tropical storm and was moving back offshore, officials said the worst for Texas was far from over as continuous rains exacerbated flooding and kept tens of thousands of people from their homes and work.

US offshore regulators estimated that, as of Monday, about 19 percent of the total daily production from the Gulf of Mexico was idled by the storm, which remains parked over parts of south Texas.

Refinery shutdowns from the storm helped push United States gasoline prices to $1.7799 per gallon on Monday, the most since 2015, although they receded slightly to $1.7342 per gallon by 0648 GMT on Tuesday.

International Brent crude futures were 5 cents lower at $51.84 per barrel, having traded as high as $52.19 earlier in the day.US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude rose 10 cents to $46.67 a barrel, after falling more than 2 per cent in the previous session.

The Motiva shutdown sent after-settlement gasoline prices up to 1.8180.

Motiva Enterprises made a decision to close its 603,000bpd plant in Port Arthur, Texas, while Total halved the output of its refinery, which is in the same area.

Oil investors are bracing themselves for a turbulent week as Hurricane Harvey continues to tear through Texas - the core of the U.S. oil industry.

"As of August 29, we estimate USA refining production offline was 4.1 million barrels per day (bpd); this represents 23 percent of total USA refining production", Goldman Sachs said in a note to clients.

Crude markets were also looking at disruptions in Libya and Colombia.

However, the assessment does not include the impact of storm Harvey.

Yet crude remains in ample supply, resulting in low prices, with Jefferies bank saying it is lowering its fourth-quarter Brent oil price estimates to $55 a barrel from $60 and its 2018 forecast to $57 from $64.