Houston — Colonial Pipeline line space for gasoline fell 2.75 cents Monday with Gulf Coast products stronger during the United Steelworkers refinery and chemical plant strike and New York Harbor differentials doing nothing to support arbitrage to Colonial's northern hub.
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Platts marked its first day of assessments for Colonial line space with a value of minus 3 cents/gal on heard trades there for space on gasoline-only Line 1 from Texas to North Carolina, down from negative 0.25 cent/gal. Line space was heard bid as low as minus 5 cents.
The assessment was for Colonial's seventh cycle, for which products will be scheduled Tuesday and shipped February 10.
The new Platts line space assessment reflects the premium, or as in Monday's case the discount, paid to get access to the line. Gasoline or distillates are exchanged at two points along the line, and the line space value is a spot assessment. Gasoline line space has been at negative values since January 26. A negative assessment means that a holder of Line 1 space, traditionally the large US refiners and trading houses, is willing to pay to give it away to preserve shipping history with Colonial.
Line space has weakened in reaction to moves up in 87-octane gasoline, one of the most-shipped products on Colonial lines. Also, traders have no arbitrage to ship Gulf Coast gasoline to New York Harbor along lines 1 and 3, with the latter delivering product to Linden, New Jersey.
The spot price of 87-octane topped $1.50/gal for the first time since December 10. It was assessed at $1.5370/gal, up 9.29 cents on stronger futures and uncertainty about the first large-scale strike against US refineries in 35 years.
The price of 87-octane now has increased seven of the last nine trading days.
"If [gasoline] values go up, and if the New York market doesn't firm up by the same magnitude, then line space has to come down," a US products broker said. "Look at the values of prompt conventional and CBOB. They go in the opposite direction to line space value."
New York Harbor regular RBOB strengthened Monday amid thin trading. RBOB was assessed at $1.5072/gal, up over 8.5 cents from Friday, largely on the back of strength in the underlying NYMEX March RBOB futures contract.
But Harbor differentials remain weaker than Gulf gasoline, even at a lower RVP of 15. The RBOB differential was assessed at minus 3.95 cents/gal, up from minus 4.45 cents on Friday. New York Harbor regular CBOB was assessed at the same level as RBOB on Monday.
Bids for pipeline access in the spring suggest the market for prompt line space will return to positive values. Morgan Stanley bid 1.5 cents to ship 150,000 barrels of gasoline throughout April, and Sunoco bid 1.25 cents to ship 150,000 barrels of gasoline throughout May. Neither bid drew seller interest before 2:15 pm CST/3:15 pm EST.