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Frigid temperatures lift gasoline across US Midwest: trade

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The assessment for Chicago gasoline blendstock reached a six-week high Tuesday, with subzero temperatures in the US Upper Midwest expected to restrict production and delivery of fuel, market sources said.

CBOB through February 4 at the Buckeye storage hub rose 4.75 cents/gal to be assessed at the NYMEX March RBOB futures contract minus 2.50 cents/gal, a high since the assessment at 25 points over front-month futures December 10, 2018.

The blendstock was due for a rally, a US light ends source said.

"It's been strong for a while," he said. "I've seen it in the paper market down the curve."

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CBOB already was on the rise before the winter storm as stocks were built in anticipation of demand for spring and summer gasoline.

Chicago was expected to drop to 22 degrees below zero Fahrenheit on Tuesday, with Detroit dropping to 8 degrees below zero. The cold snap was expected to last until Thursday.

"It seems like Chicago is really jumping this week," a second US light ends source said. Weather issues sometimes translate to operational issues behind the refinery gate, he said.

Market sources also expected the storm to slow delivery of gasoline to retailers.

Chicago gasoline also found support in refinery bidding Monday. Texas and Minnesota refinery operator Flint Hills sought 10,000 barrels of CBOB on the Badger Pipeline through February 4. The company improved its bid to NYMEX March RBOB minus 10.50 cents/gal without seller interest.

As of Tuesday afternoon, no Midwest refineries had reported production issues.

Oklahoma gasoline followed Chicago higher. Benchmark next-day suboctane at Tulsa was assessed Tuesday at NYMEX February RBOB minus 9 cents/gal, up 2.25 cents from the Monday assessment, with support from Koch bidding.

--Jeffrey Bair, jeffrey.bair@spglobal.com

--Edited by Annie Siebert, ann.siebert@spglobal.com