February 24 2018

Gasoline Surges As Harvey Wallops Refineries

February 24 2018, 05:54 | Irvin Gilbert

Hurricane Harvey's Possible Gasoline Impact


The impact of the storm overshadowed the latest weekly figures on USA oil supplies from the American Petroleum Institute (API).

Deadly Hurricane Harvey struck at the heart of the USA oil industry over the weekend, and the effects of the powerful storm and its floodwaters are likely to ripple across the sector for weeks to come.

Prices at the pump are already heading higher.

Over the past week, prices fluctuated, with the national average per-gallon price for regular at $2.36 as of Sunday-that's 2 cents higher than the previous week.

Gasoline futures rose almost 3 percent Monday.

Wholesale gasoline prices in the country will likely rise by an average of two to four cents per litre by Thursday, said GasBuddy senior petroleum analyst Dan McTeague, but consumers in certain markets could see much higher price increases.

Oil in NY has lost nearly 8 percent this month as investors weigh rising USA supply against production cuts from some members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies. Prices are already up by six cents a gallon in Washington, D.C., Georgia and SC since Friday, when the national average was about $2.35 a gallon.

The so-called shale revolution has led to a surge in oil production in the US, increasing the nation's exports of crude oil and gasoline to Mexico and other places in Latin America, and diesel to Europe.

All of the damage from the hurricane not only means that refineries will be purchasing a lot less crude, but the millions of people along the Gulf Coast will also be consuming a lot less gasoline.

Outside of the immediate impact from Harvey, last week saw another decline in US exploration and production activity.

On Wednesday, Calgary-based Encana (TSX:ECA) reported it has restarted production and drilling at its Eagle Ford oil fields in southern Texas.

Harvey, which hit the coast as a Category 4 hurricane, will likely affect the South Texas economy for months. On Tuesday, ExxonMobil began winding down some operations at its Beaumont, TX refinery as the storm headed east towards eastern Texas and Louisiana.

Refineries in the Houston and Corpus Christi areas shut down before the storm hit Friday to minimize damage.

The Texas Gulf Coast is home to 4.944 million barrels per day of refining capacity, while the Louisiana Gulf Coast accounts for 3.696 million barrels per day, Platts said, citing data from the US Energy Information Administration. That gives the country a cushion when dealing with a disaster like Harvey.

Canadian-owned refineries are expected to register higher profits as more U.S. Gulf Coast facilities are shut down due to ongoing extensive flooding from what's left of Hurricane Harvey. The company said it's working with the government to evaluate whether the local infrastructure - such as roads, power and ports - will allow the refineries to resume operations. In addition to the key ports in Houston and Corpus Christi, ports in Lake Charles, Beaumont and Port Arthur are also down.

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