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Fuel prices rise as Harvey's effects ripple beyond Gulf

Fuel prices rise as Harvey's effects ripple beyond Gulf

Gasoline futures surged on Wednesday to another two-year high and crude oil was down, as flooding and damage from Tropical Storm Harvey shut almost a quarter of US refinery capacity, curbing demand for crude while raising the risk of fuel shortages.

But on Friday, U.S. gasoline margins RBc1-CLc1 tumbled more than 5 percent and gasoline futures fell nearly 2 percent, their first daily loss since the storm.

Light synthetic crude from the oil sands for October delivery strengthened to last trade at $1.70 a barrel over WTI, having settled at $1.30 per barrel over the benchmark on Thursday.

"Recognize that Gulf Coast refineries that were idled by Harvey present about 40% of East-of-the-Rockies' production", said Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis at the Oil Price Information Service.

Texas is home to 5.6 million barrels of refining capacity per day, and Louisiana has 3.3 million barrels.

In onshore production, 300,000 bpd-500,000 bpd of crude production has been shut-in in the Eagle Ford from a pre-storm production estimate of 870,000 bpd, the DOE said, citing the Texas Railroad Commission.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) earlier this year had forecast that technological and process improvements would lift US production sharply, leading some analysts and executives to predict 10 million bpd by December.

The farther north you go from Dallas, gas shortage is likely to be less of a problem because supplies from non-Texas refineries are expected to fill any supply gaps caused by Gulf Coast disruptions.

The US Department of the Interior's Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said that roughly 13.5% of oil production in the Gulf of Mexico was also shut in on Thursday.

The government plans to supply 1 million barrels of crude from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to a Gulf Coast plant, the first emergency release in five years.




Gasoline for October delivery on Friday fell 1.8 percent to settle at US$1.7479 per gallon on the New York Mercantile Exchange, but was up 4.8 percent for the week.

USA disruptions have hit wholesalers.

"There's plenty of gasoline in the state of Texas", Abbott said at a news conference.

"The continued increase in flooding creates high uncertainty on the amount of damage that U.S. 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.

Gasoline margins RBc1-CLc1 climbed, as the gasoline crack spread jumped to $24.02 a barrel early in the session, the highest on a seasonal basis since 2012.

Some crude oil pipelines have restarted operations.

At $2.75 a gallon, Idaho motorists are paying 29 cents more today than a year ago, and prices could reach $2.85 per gallon in the coming days.

Prices have risen more than 17.5 cents since August 23, before the storm began. It hit a high of 9.6 MMbpd (million barrels per day) in June 2015.

In Texas, Shell was assessing the impact of Harvey, but a spokesman did not respond to a question about the status of its Sugarland terminal in St. James, used for crude exports.

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