US Gulf fuel oil stats signal bunkers demand boost
New York, 7 December (Argus) — US Gulf fuel oil production growth outpaced fuel oil exports growth in the first nine months of 2017, even as fuel oil inventories dropped. The gap signaled an increase in bunkering demand, as bunkering accounts for over 90pc of residual fuel oil sold in the US Gulf.
In the US Gulf, refiners and blenders' residual fuel oil production was up by 12pc or 22,111 b/d to 213,333 b/d. Despite a drop in the Gulf refinery utilization rate in September to 78pc in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, Gulf coast refiners processed 8.80mn b/d of crude in the first nine months of the year, up 2pc compared with 8.66mn b/d of crude during the same period in 2016. US Gulf fuel oil exports were up by 1.2pc or 2,556 b/d to 224,556 b/d and production growth outpaced exports growth. In addition, Gulf inventory levels were down by 8pc or 267,269 b/d to 3.26mn b/d.
US total residual fuel oil production from refiners and blenders rebounded by 6pc to 435,333 b/d in the first nine months of the year, compared with 411,778 b/d during the same period in 2016. US refining utilization rates ramped up to meet a spike in demand for US diesel exports, triggering fuel oil production as well. US diesel exports in September hit 1.7mn b/d, the highest level since the US Energy Information Administration began record-keeping in 1945.