U.S. gasoline futures settled Monday at their highest in nearly nine months as an unplanned outage at the Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) Baton Rouge, Louisiana refinery is expected to retain the gasoline maker’s catalytic cracker down for a few weeksdriving supply concerns just as demand appears to be strengthening.
Disruptions during the high-demand summer driving season also pushed the 3-2-1 gap, a measure of the profitability of turning crude oil into fuel, to its highest level since March, Bloomberg reported.
The Baton Rouge refinery has two liquid catalytic crackers of the same size and with a combined capacity of 243.5K bbl/d, and one unit has reportedly been closed since Thursday while offline.
Front-month Nymex RBOB Petrol (XB1:COM) for August delivery closed +3.3% to $2.8951/gal, the highest settlement since Oct. 28 last year and the fifth straight daily gain during which the contract gained 10%.
Gasoline prices at the pump have been stuck in a narrow range since April in a “very quiet summer,” but GasBuddy’s Patrick de Haan said costs may immediately affected by the “tremendous heat,” which could provide fuel for tropical weather systems in the Atlantic and Caribbean.
Gas Buddy reported the July 24 US average for regular, unleaded gasoline was $3.55/gallon, up 2.1 cents from last week but almost unchanged from last month and $0.78 lower than the same time last year.
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