Hurricanes drain US gasoline supplies
Houston, 13 September (Argus) — National gasoline stockpiles last week drained by the largest volume in 27 years of federal records as hurricane outages rippled through the eastern United States.
Total gasoline inventories fell in the week ended 8 September by 8.4mn bl to 218.3mn bl, the largest weekly drop since records began in 1990, according to the Energy Information Administration. Stockpiles of the fuel fell to their lowest level since December 2015.
Most of the plunge came from the US Atlantic coast, where inventories fell by 5.7mn b, or 9.3pc, to 54.8mn bl, the lowest level since December 2014 and largest weekly in almost two years. US Gulf coast stockpiles fell by 3.7mn bl — the largest regional drop since 2008 — to 78.7mn bl. Inventories fell by 3.8mn bl in early September 2008, before Hurricane Ike reached Texas. But US Atlantic coast declines for that storm were more gradual than declines in eastern regions this year.
US crude processing fell by 2.7pc to 14.1mn b/d, the lowest throughput since March 2013. Gasoline production was effectively flat at 9.5mn b/d, but distillates output fell by 11.2pc to 3.7mn b/d, its lowest volume since April 2012.
Implied gasoline demand, meanwhile, increased by 5pc from the previous week to 9.6mn b/d. Implied distillates demand was steady at 4.1mn b/d. Ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) exports fell by 30.8pc to 511,000 b/d, their lowest level since June 2010.
Hurricane Harvey shut or reduced units at 5mn b/d of Texas refining capacity after a five-day deluge of record rainfall across the state's ports, pipelines and refining hub. The disruption reduced shipments into the midcontinent and across the southeast. At least 1.5mn b/d of refining capacity in the state continues restart efforts following the storm.
The storm left supplies tight ahead of a gasoline demand spike across Florida and the southeast for evacuations ahead of Hurricane Irma's 10 September landfall.
US Gulf coast crude throughputs fell by 5.1pc from the previous week to 5.7mn b/d, the region's lowest level since September 2008, when 14 refineries shut to prepare for Hurricane Ike. US refiners have cut rates by 3.6mn b/d — more than the west coast and Rocky mountain refining regions combined — since setting a record 17.8mn b/d just ahead of Harvey's arrival in Texas.
But US Gulf coast gasoline production was coming back online. The region reported a 33.9pc increase in gasoline output, to 1.9mn b/d, in the largest weekly rise of gasoline production since September 2008.
National ULSD inventories fell by 2.8pc to 125.9mn bl, the lowest volume since November 2016. US Atlantic coast stockpiles reported most of the draw, lower by 6.4pc from the previous week to 39.9mn bl.
Midcontinent ULSD inventories increased by 2.6pc from the previous week to 31.7mn bl.