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Portland gasoline spikes to multi-year high amid regional refinery disruptions

Houston — Portland suboctane gasoline traded at NYMEX November RBOB futures plus 55 cents/gal on Thursday morning, which is the strongest the differential has been in years, S&P Global Platts data shows.

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Market sources said that the Portland cash market's rally is attributable to numerous refinery disruptions in the Pacific Northwest caused by the shutdown of a natural gas pipeline from British Columbia.

Platts data show that if Portland gasoline were to be assessed at the level of this trade, it would be the strongest the differential has been since Platts began assessing Portland gasoline in 2013. The differential's previous high was the assessment from July 28, 2015, when it was assessed at August futures plus 52.45 cents/gal, the data shows.

On Wednesday, Pacific Northwest gas supplies were disrupted when the Enbridge-controlled pipeline was struck by the fire. With gas supplies disrupted, refineries in Washington had to either shut in production or run at reduced rates because they had limited access to power. Those refineries included Phillips 66's Ferndale refinery, Shell's Anacortes refinery and Marathon Oil's Anacortes refinery, according to the company spokesmen.

On Wednesday, a source familiar with operations at BP's Cherry Point refinery said operations were normal, but that the impact of the pipeline outage was being monitored.

Altogether, the five Pacific Northwest refineries have a combined capacity of 637,700b/d, or about 4% of US refining capacity and about 22% of the US West Coast capacity, according to US Energy Information Administration data.

On Thursday morning, Enbridge said it had received regulatory approval to restart a previously idled gas pipeline into the Pacific Northwest in order to alleviate the transportation bottleneck created by the fire. But with no timeline given for that pipeline restart, Portland gasoline remained elevated Thursday morning.

--Seth Clare, seth.clare@spglobal.com

--Janet McGurty, janet.mcgurty@spglobal.com

--Edited by Richard Rubin, richard.rubin@spglobal.com