September 17, 2018 / 8:04 PM / a year ago

U.S. East Coast gasoline prices steady despite unit shutdowns

NEW YORK, Sept 17 (Reuters) - Strong gasoline inventories on the U.S. East Coast have kept cash prices for the product steady, traders said on Monday, despite refiners recently shutting gasoline-making units in the region due to leaks or to make repairs.

High imports into the East Coast have kept inventories up, offsetting any potential supply disruptions from unit shutdowns at Philadelphia Energy Solutions’ (PES) refinery complex in Philadelphia and Phillips 66’s Bayway refinery in Linden, New Jersey, market sources said.

Gasoline and blending components imports into the East Coast have been higher than year-ago levels for each of the last seven months, said Matt Smith, director of commodities research at ClipperData. August imports were about 160,000 barrels per day more than the same time last year, he added.

This has pushed stockpiles higher. East Coast gasoline inventories were at 66.75 million barrels in the week to Sept. 7, the highest level for any September on record, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

For a graphic on East Coast inventories, see:

PES shut the 85,000-bpd gasoline-making unit on Saturday at the Girard Point section of the Philadelphia refinery complex due to a leak. It does not plan to restart the fluid catalytic cracker (FCC) for at least five days, a source familiar with the matter said on Monday.

The 150,000-bpd gasoline unit at P66’s Bayway refinery remains shut until the end of the month after the unit had been shut and restarted several times since the end of March, following a two-month turnaround.

Additional shutdowns in the region are expected. Monroe Energy plans a refinery-wide shutdown of its 185,000-bpd refinery outside Philadelphia on Sept. 22, Reuters previously reported.

Despite the shutdowns, prices of gasoline in New York Harbor were little changed on Monday from the previous session. F4, the dominant RBOB grade in the region, traded at about 0.85 cent per gallon below the gasoline futures contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange, traders said.

Reporting by Stephanie Kelly Editing by Paul Simao

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