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Futures spreads widen, cash prices static as Irving Oil refinery remains shut

Houston — Cash prices for New York Harbor refined oil products were static, but futures spreads widened Tuesday morning as Irving Oil's 300,000 b/d refinery in Saint John, New Brunswick, remained shut after an explosion Monday.

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The company confirmed Tuesday on Twitter that the refinery remained shut and that it planned to evaluate restarting the plant Tuesday night.

"We are currently planning to have our turnaround team back on site this evening for the night shift," Irving said. "Our plans for returning to full turnaround mode will be discussed at that time."

Multiple sources said the explosion was associated with a distillate hydrotreater, which Tuesday morning helped push the premium for prompt NYMEX ULSD compared with NYMEX RBOB as wide as 33 cents/gal, a multiyear high.

RBOB futures, which rose in the immediate aftermath of the explosion, moved lower in Tuesday trading as the risk to East Coast gasoline supply eased. At 1435 GMT, NYMEX November RBOB was down 2.24 cents/gal.

"The East Coast is very well-supplied for gasoline, but less so for distillate," Again Capital partner John Kilduff said. "Those lost barrels could be meaningful here so now you are seeing the gas to heat spread blowing out."

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Gasoline stocks in New England, where Irving sends most of its production, were 86.1% higher than their five-year average the week ended September 28, US Energy Information Administration data showed.

Cash New York Harbor RBOB was heard valued at NYMEX November RBOB plus 0.50 cent/gal, unchanged from its previous two assessments.

Gasoline traders said that in addition to high inventories, the market did not react to the explosion because the refinery's fluid catalytic cracker was already down for planned maintenance.

"Still seems like tanks are full everywhere," one gasoline source said.

But New England gasoline distillate stocks were down 10.8% from their five-year average, EIA data showed.

Ultra low sulfur heating oil barges on Tuesday morning were heard slightly stronger, bid at NYMEX November ULSD futures minus 2 cents/gal, where they were assessed Monday. ULSHO on the Buckeye Pipeline was heard offered at minus 1.60 cents/gal.

Atlantic Coast ULSHO values rose slightly Monday to be assessed at minus 2 cents/gal from minus 2.30 cents/gal Friday, but sources attributed its strength to the falling value in the Renewable Volume Obligation rather than supply disruption.

--Joshua Brown, joshua.brown1@spglobal.com

--Beth Brown, elizabeth.brown@spglobal.com

--Chris van Moessner, christopher.vanmoessner@spglobal.com

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