Whiting outage depletes midcon road fuel stocks

  • Market: Crude oil, Oil products
  • 08/03/24

Gasoline and diesel stocks in the US midcontinent are down by a combined 7mn bl after a February outage at the largest refinery in the region, with inventory draws expected to continue should the plant remain offline.

The 1 February shutdown of BP's 435,000 b/d Whiting, Indiana, refinery helped drive down US midcontinent refinery utilization rates by 12 percentage points to 83pc in the week ended 9 February, according to Energy Information Administration (EIA) data.

Refinery utilization in the region partially recovered in the subsequent three weeks, reaching 89pc in the week ended 1 March, according to the most recent EIA data. But that was still 3pc below utilization rates in the same seven days last year, and the curtailed supply has drawn down refined product inventories.

US midcontinent gasoline and diesel stocks have fallen each week since the outage, reaching 89.5mn bl in the week ended 1 March, a 7pc drop over four weeks.

Regional inventory draws will continue until the Whiting plant restarts, the EIA said in a 6 March analysis of US refinery activity.

BP since 5 February has said it is working toward a "phased restart" of the plant.

Whiting produces about 238,000 b/d of gasoline, 95,000 b/d of diesel and 48,000 b/d of jet fuel and supplies approximately 7pc of all asphalt in the US, according to BP.

But any stock builds in the midcontinent could be short lived as heavy second quarter maintenance work begins in the region.

Planned crude distillation unit (CDU) outages in the midcontinent in April are expected to average 493,000 b/d, almost double levels for the same month last year, according to data from market intelligence company IIR Energy. US midcontinent CDU outages in May will average 206,000 b/d, up from 77,000 b/d in 2023, according to IIR data.

Elsewhere in the US, refining rates are rising as some of the largest plants, particularly along the US Gulf coast, complete turnarounds.

Average utilization rates across the US rose by over three percentage points to 85pc in the week ended 1 March after holding in the low 80s in the prior five weeks due to the turnaround work.


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