Analysis by Dr. Nancy Yamaguchi
The Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its weekly data on diesel and gasoline retail prices for the week ended April 24, 2017. Gasoline prices rose for the fourth consecutive week, while diesel prices declined slightly. For the current week ended April 24, diesel prices declined by 0.2 cents to an average price of $2.595/gallon.
PADD 1 retail diesel prices increased slightly by 0.1 cents to $2.632/gallon. New England prices rose by 1.2 cents to $2.65/gallon. Central Atlantic diesel prices rose by 0.2 cents to average $2.785/gallon. Lower Atlantic prices decreased by 0.2 cents to average $2.520/gallon. Overall, PADD 1 prices were 38.8 cents/gallon above their prices for the same week last year. PBF Energy will be shutting a 46-kbpd diesel hydrotreater at its 160-kbpd Paulsboro, New Jersey, refinery for a three- to four-week maintenance period. Phillips 66’s 238-kbpd Bayway, New Jersey, refinery remains running at very low throughput. It was scheduled to restart in mid-March, including its crude unit, its 145-kbpd cat cracker, its cat reformer and its diesel hydrotreater. But delays pushed back the restart until the 31st, and since then, poor economics have kept throughput low.
In the Midwest PADD 2 market, retail diesel prices declined by 0.6 cents to average $2.530/gallon. This price was 37.4 cents/gallon above its level for the same week last year. Tesoro closed its 75-kbpd Mandan, North Dakota, refinery for a full-plant overhaul earlier than the originally scheduled April 4 date. The overhaul includes a diesel hydrotreater. BP restored normal operations at a 110-kbpd crude unit (one of three crude towers) at its 413.5-kbpd Whiting, Indiana, refinery. BP will close its 55-kbpd diesel hydrotreater during the first half of May for planned maintenance.
In the Gulf Coast PADD 3, retail diesel prices remained unchanged at $2.458/gallon. This price was 38.4 cents higher than in the previous year. Motiva continues to have issues repairing the H-Oil unit at its 230-kbpd Convent, Louisiana, refinery. Reports indicate that some of the piping infrastructure will need replacement, a process that may take two to three months. HollyFrontier is restarting an 85-kbpd crude unit and an 11-kbpd coker at the West Plant of its Tulsa, Oklahoma, refinery after a power outage. Motiva restored operations at the sole crude unit and the 50-kbpd hydrocracker at its 250-kbpd Norco, Louisiana, refinery. In July, Valero plans to shut down the 55-kbpd ultra-low-sulfur diesel (ULSD) hydrotreater at its 293-kbpd Corpus Christi, Texas, refinery for an overhaul.
In the Rocky Mountains PADD 4 market, retail diesel prices increased 1.0 cents to $2.662/gallon. This price was 46.0 cents higher than in the prior year.
In the West Coast PADD 5 market, diesel prices at the pump decreased by 0.2 cents to average $2.875/gallon. This price was 46.9 cents above its level last year. Prices excluding California decreased by 0.5 cents to $2.786/gallon, which was 50.4 cents above the retail price for the same week last year. California diesel prices increased by 0.1 cent to an average price of $2.947/gallon, 44.2 cents higher than last year’s price.
Valero was forced to shut down the 34-kbpd hydrocracker at its 145-kbpd refinery at Benicia, California, for unplanned repairs, which have extended beyond original estimates. Shell is preparing for maintenance at the 42-kbpd hydrocracker at its 165-kbpd Martinez, California, refinery to commence at the end of April or early May. BP shut the 65-kbpd hydrocracker at its 225-kbpd Cherry Point, Washington, refinery for an overhaul. PBF Energy reduced throughput at the 88-kbpd vacuum gas oil (VGO) hydrotreater at its 149-kbpd Torrance, California, refinery for more unplanned repairs. This unit is scheduled for a seven-week overhaul in late April/early May. The hydrocracker is scheduled for a five-week overhaul.
U.S. retail gasoline prices rose by 1.3 cents to $2.449/gallon for the week ended April 24. This price was 28.7 cents higher than for the same week in 2016. Gasoline prices are at their highest levels since the week ended August 31, 2015.
In the East Coast PADD 1, prices for gasoline rose by 1.9 cents to $2.416/gallon. This price was 29 cents higher than last year’s price. Prices jumped by 3.1 cents in New England to $2.404/gallon. Central Atlantic market prices rose by 1.1 cents to $2.519/gallon. Prices in the Lower Atlantic market rose by 2.3 cents to bring prices to an average of $2.343/gallon, which was 29.2 cents higher than last year’s average price. Marathon Petroleum closed the 21.5-kbpd cat reformer at its 240-kbpd Catlettsburg, Kentucky, refinery after a mechanical problem. The unit was brought back online during the week. PBF Energy plans to complete turnaround and restart the 82-kbpd cat cracker at its 182.2-kbpd Delaware City, Delaware, refinery, along with the 12-kbpd alkylation unit.
In the Midwest PADD 2 market, retail gasoline prices rose by 1.9 cents to average $2.358/gallon. Gasoline pump prices were 26.1 cents higher than they were one year ago. Tesoro closed its 75-kbpd Mandan, North Dakota, refinery for a full-plant overhaul after a power outage and steam plant failure. The refinery includes a cat cracker and a cat reformer. The overhaul was originally scheduled for April 4.
The Gulf Coast PADD 3 market was the only PADD where gasoline prices did not increase during the week. Gasoline prices declined by 1.6 cents to average $2.225/gallon. Prices for the week were 31.2 cents higher than for the same week in 2016. ExxonMobil briefly closed the cat cracker at its 344.6-kbpd Beaumont, Texas, refinery after a boiler went out.
Citgo is experiencing another week’s delay overhauling the 46-kbpd cat cracker at its 425-kbpd Lake Charles, Louisiana, refinery. Motiva continues to have issues repairing the H-Oil unit at its 230-kbpd Convent, Louisiana, refinery. Flint Hills Resources was forced to reduce throughput at the largest crude unit, approximately 170 kbpd, at its 295.6-kbpd Corpus Christi, Texas, refinery. Placid Refining reduced crude runs and moved up a five-week overhaul of the 25-kbpd cat cracker and related operations at its 75-kbpd Port Allen, Louisiana, refinery.
In the Rocky Mountains PADD 4 region, gasoline prices jumped 3.7 cents to average $2.413/gallon. This price was 29.7 cents higher than at the same time in 2016.
In the West Coast PADD 5 market, retail gasoline prices rose by 0.8 cents to an average price of $2.891/gallon. This was 29.5 cents higher than at the same time a year ago. Excluding California, prices rose by 2.2 cents to an average of $2.674/gallon. This was 38.8 cents higher than at the same time in 2016. In California, prices were unchanged at an average pump price of $3.017/gallon. California remained the only state market to have gasoline prices top $3 once again. Prices were 24.2 cents higher than last year’s price for the same week. Los Angeles prices edged down by 0.1 cent to average $3.054/gallon. San Francisco pump prices decreased by 0.4 cents to average $3.057/gallon, 22.5 cents above last year’s price.
Seattle prices rose 1.5 cents to average $2.897/gallon, 57.0 cents higher than prices one year ago. Chevron shut the 49-kbpd cat reformer at its 2730-kbpd El Segundo, California, refinery for unplanned repairs, which are expected to be completed by approximately May 5. Tesoro restarted a hydrogen plant at its 265-kbpd Carson, California, refinery following unplanned repairs. This allowed the resumption of normal rates at the 103-kbpd VGO hydrotreater.