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Oil prices fall as refinery production dips in US

31 Août 2017

A total of 4.2 million barrels of USA refining capacity has been shut by Harvey, almost as much as the nation of Japan consumes on a daily basis, based on company reports and Reuters estimates.

"The continued increase in flooding creates high uncertainty on the amount of damage that US refineries will incur, the pace at which the shutdown will reverse and the magnitude of capacity that will be impaired over the next few months", Goldman Sachs analysts wrote in a note.

Major pipelines carrying gasoline and diesel fuel to Midwest and East Coast markets have been either throttled back or shut entirely. The Gulf is home to almost half of US refining capacity.

October West Texas Intermediate crude fell 48 cents, or 1%, to settle at $45.96 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

USA gasoline prices surged to two-year highs on Monday at $1.7799 per gallon.

Motiva Enterprises said it will reduce the capacity at its Port Arthur refinery in Texas, the largest in the country, by 60%.

The expected USA crude build-up widened the WTI discount to Brent to $5.64 per barrel, its widest in over two years.

"US gasoline prices increased by 3% at $1.8380 per gallon, the most since 31 July 2015".

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

"They're not spiking as much as they would have had we not had the backdrop of plentiful inventories", said Smith, noting gasoline supplies sit at a five year high for this time of year.

Given the reference period, the data will not have been affected by Hurricane Harvey and the overall impact was limited by uncertainty surrounding the impact of the storm on oil production and refinery capacity.

USA crude inventories fell by 5.78 million barrels last week, the API industry group reported on Tuesday, suggesting a gradual tightening of the US oil market.

Oil refiners have shut down around 1 million bpd of refining capacity in Texas, Bloomberg reported on Friday, just as the storm was getting ready to hit the Gulf coast.

Domestic crude output may inch closer to a record high, but the effects of Harvey on producers won't begin to be known until next week.

Crude markets were also looking at disruptions in Libya and Colombia. "There's plenty of crude oil", said Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis at the Oil Price Information Service.

Oil prices fall as refinery production dips in US