San Francisco Gets Fuel from Los Angeles as Gap Widens

August 19, 2014 By

August 18, 2014

by Lynn Doan, Bloomberg

Spot gasoline in San Francisco at the highest premium to Los Angeles in two weeks has opened an arbitrage for fuel to flow north.

Spot California-blend gasoline in the San Francisco Bay area gained 1 cent a gallon versus the same fuel in Los Angeles to a premium of 8 cents, its highest since Aug. 4, data compiled by Bloomberg at 4:43 p.m. New York time show. The fuel has averaged a discount of 1.55 cents a gallon this year.

“Some problem in the Bay is causing the differential to run backward,” David Hackett, president of energy consulting company Stillwater Associates in Irvine, California, said by telephone today. “While products normally flow from north to south, there seem to be refinery problems in the Bay. The unusual arbitrage to bring product from Los Angeles to the Bay is open.”

The U.S.-flagged oil-products tanker Oregon Voyager left the Los Angeles area Aug. 15 and arrived off the coast of Richmond in Northern California today, data compiled by IHS Inc. (IHS) show. The beneficial owner of the tanker is Chevron Corp. (CVX), which uses vessels to balance supplies at its West Coast refineries including plants in Richmond and El Segundo, California, Hackett said.

While California-blend gasoline stockpiles climbed 208,000 barrels in the week ended by Aug. 8 to 4.94 million, supplies of the fuel in Northern California are at the lowest level seasonally in at least five years, California Energy Commission data show. Southern California supplies are still within the five-year range for this time of year, the agency said Aug. 15.

West Coast

Gasoline in both Los Angeles and San Francisco gained today versus futures traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange, strengthening to premiums of 12 cents and 20 cents a gallon, respectively, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Spot conventional gasoline at New York Harbor weakened 0.38 cent to a 2.5-cent discount versus futures. The same fuel on the Gulf Coast gained 1.5 cents to a 5.5-cent discount.

Gasoline in the U.S. Midcontinent, known as Group 3, weakened 1.5 cents to a 3.75 cents below futures, and the fuel in Chicago slid 1.75 cents to a 9-cent discount.