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Refinery Margin Tracker: Maya margins rise on USGC ahead of Pemex's new streamlined price formula

New York — US Gulf Coast refining margins trended weaker last week, as refinery turnarounds wind down while coking margins for Mexico's benchmark Maya crude rose ahead of the crude's pricing formula change to better reflect market conditions from IMO 2020, an analysis from S&P Platts Global showed Monday.

USGC coking margins for Maya rose to $14.14/b for the week ended October 18, up from the $10.81/b the week earlier, while USGC coking margins for Western Canada Select fell to $19.07/b from $19.48/b the week earlier, according to S&P Platts Analytics.

As anticipated, the formula change for Maya from PMI, the trading arm of state-oil company Petroleos Mexicanos, removed HSFO from the equation as of December 1, 2019 for US buyers.

HSFO, along with West Texas Sour accounted for 40% of Maya's current US price formula. Its removal better reflects the dying demand and falling prices for the fuel, which will be phased out as a transportation fuel on January 1, 2020, as the bunker fuel spec changes from 3.5% sulfur to 0.5%.

The new price formula will be 65% of the WTI price at Houston and 35% of ICE Brent, with the K factor which is adjusted monthly to reflect regional market conditions. It will be put into place for December barrels.

USGC refinery turnarounds are ending, with 1.682 million barrels off line for the week ended October 18, from the 1.85 million b/d offline the week earlier, according to S&P Global Platts Analytics.


USGC refiners have been relying on Maya and Canadian Western Canada Select to fill their cokers as sanctions have cut off heavy crude supply from another local source, Venezuela.

The change in Maya's pricing formula will more closely align it with that of WCS for USGC refiners, where it has been trading at a premium to the Canadian crude.

"Pemex might have removed HSFO pricing from its formula but it will have to price Maya relative to WCS Houston," wrote Credit-Suisse analyst Manav Gupta in a recent research note.

Maya held a $2.78/b premium to Western Canada Select priced at US Gulf Coast hub of Nederland, Texas, for the week ended October 18, in sharply from the $6.59/b the week earlier, according to Platts price assessments.

However, additional WCS barrels could widen the heavy-light spreads. So far in the third quarter of 2019, WCS is holding a $9.05/b discount to WTI at Magellan East Houston's terminal compared with the second quarter's $7.04/b discount, Platts assessments show.

Gupta estimates about 200,000 b/d of incremental WCS barrels will be coming into the US over the next six to nine months with the provincial curtailment deal, widening spreads further.

"Wider heavy-light spreads would be a major tailwind for coking economics," he added.

US Atlantic Coast Refining Margin Averages ($/b)
Bonny Light Cracking Syncrude Cracking Bakken Crude Cracking Forties Cracking
Week ending October 18 10.99 9.39 15.84 8.57
Week ending October 11 8.86 8.70 15.79 8.41
Q4 to date 8.80 9.24 16.08 8.51
Q4-18 3.74 25.70 18.18 3.39
Q3-19 8.83 6.49 14.32 9.06
Q2-19 7.43 9.12 14.06 7.66
Source: S&P Global Platts Analytics
US Gulf Coast Refining Margin Averages ($/b)
WTI MEH Cracking Isthmus Cracking Mars Coking Vasconia Coking
Week ending October 18 14.24 6.76 11.42 10.86
Week ending October 11 15.38 8.49 13.15 11.31
Q4 to date 15.99 9.69 13.55 11.72
Q4-18 7.04 2.80 6.50 7.44
Q3-19 11.82 7.84 9.26 10.17
Q2-19 9.60 7.05 8.34 9.26
Source: S&P Global Platts Analytics
US Midwest Refining Margin Averages ($/b)
Bakken Cracking Syncrude Cracking WTI Cushing Cracking WCS ex-Cushing Coking
Week ending October 18 12.60 9.36 11.42 13.51
Week ending October 11 14.46 13.49 15.13 18.46
Q4 to date 16.96 15.80 16.67 18.43
Q4-18 20.56 30.19 11.75 13.87
Q3-19 14.94 12.33 13.38 14.23
Q2-19 18.57 17.54 16.91 16.96
Source: S&P Global Platts Analytics
US West Coast Refining Margin Averages ($/b)
ANS Cracking Napo Coking Arab Medium Coking Vasconia Coking
Week ending October 18 19.32 23.21 22.14 25.68
Week ending October 11 25.02 29.19 28.42 31.93
Q4 to date 30.61 33.54 32.89 36.76
Q4-18 12.74 16.33 13.73 16.82
Q3-19 16.66 18.34 15.72 21.02
Q2-19 19.49 22.33 18.45 24.38
Source: S&P Global Platts Analytics
Singapore Refining Margin Averages ($/b)
Dubai Cracking Forties Cracking ESPO Cracking WTI MEH Cracking
Week ending October 18 1.35 0.10 -2.26 3.29
Week ending October 11 0.10 -0.28 -0.11 2.13
Q4 to date 1.96 1.05 1.01 3.28
Q4-18 2.43 0.15 0.74 2.82
Q3-19 3.62 1.20 1.60 3.94
Q2-19 0.81 -1.14 0.22 1.95
Source: S&P Global Platts Analytics
ARA Refining Margin Averages ($/b)
Forties Cracking Bonny Light Cracking Azeri Light Cracking Urals Cracking
Week ending October 18 7.08 9.25 4.75 8.62
Week ending October 11 6.60 6.94 4.44 8.54
Q4 to date 7.16 7.55 6.02 9.38
Q4-18 3.87 4.39 3.85 5.11
Q3-19 6.52 7.47 5.58 7.30
Q2-19 4.99 6.18 4.65 5.80
Source: S&P Global Platts Analytics
Italy Refining Margin Averages ($/b)
Urals Cracking CPC Blend Cracking Azeri Light Cracking WTI MEH Cracking
Week ending October 18 6.77 9.62 5.55 6.53
Week ending October 11 6.96 10.39 6.09 6.76
Q4 to date 7.67 10.73 7.19 7.58
Q4-18 3.51 5.46 3.60 3.45
Q3-19 5.57 8.83 5.61 7.52
Q2-19 3.83 6.50 3.85 5.25
Source: S&P Global Platts Analytics

-- Janet McGurty,

-- Edited by Richard Rubin,