LONDON, April 16 Gasoline barge cracks in
northwest Europe slipped slightly on Wednesday but remained near
eight-month highs after U.S. inventory data continued to show
robust demand and tight stockpiles ahead of the summer driving
U.S. gasoline stocks fell 154,000 barrels week-on-week,
according to the latest data from the Energy Information
Administration. U.S. gasoline demand over the last four
weeks was up 4.6 percent from a year ago.
Traders said that it looked as if the arbitrage to the
United States from Europe was closed on paper at the moment,
although it has been open a number of times in the last few
weeks. More cargoes were fixed from Europe earlier this week.
Low water levels are hampering barge traffic along the Rhine
and Danube in Germany. Water levels at Kaub were
at 128 cm on Wednesday, well below the 180 cm level at which
barges can sail fully loaded.
In France, LyondellBasell said it had pulled out of
talks to sell its Berre refinery to Monaco-based Sotragem,
adding that the bid offered no guarantee that the mothballed
plant would restart.
Over in the naphtha market, traders said that SABIC was
planning maintenance at its Teesside petrochemical plant. The
cracker is said to be down from May 10 to June 5, which will
reduce European demand for naphtha further.
Demand from petrochemical plants is already sluggish as
propane remains a cheaper feedstock, with a discount of about
$96 a tonne in the prompt market.
* Gunvor sold a barge of benchmark Eurobob to Vitol in the
Platts price assessment window at $1,024 a tonne fob ARA. This
was up from trades at $1,019-$1,021 a tonne on Tuesday.
* Some 10,000 tonnes of gasoline traded ahead of the window
at $1,021-$1,029 a tonne fob ARA, up from $1,015-$1,019 a tonne
on Tuesday. Gunvor, BB Energy and Noble were on the sell side
whilst Vitol, Argos and Trafigura were buying.
* The early trades came at discounts to the May swap of
$2.50-$3 a tonne. By the market close, the May swap was trading
at around $1,028.25 a tonne, up from $1,022 a tonne on Tuesday.
* Some 3,000 tonnes of premium unleaded gasoline traded at
$1,040-$1,042 a tonne fob ARA, up from Tuesday's trades
at$1,027-$1,031 a tonne. Total bought the barges from Vitol and
* By 1544 GMT, Eurobob's crack to dated Brent BFO- was at
around $12.08 a barrel, slipping from around $12.57 a barrel on
* At the same time, Brent crude oil futures were up
46 cents at $109.82 a barrel.
* U.S. RBOB gasoline futures in New York were up 0.15
percent at $3.0476 a gallon, and the prompt crack RB-CL1=R was
up at $24.79 a barrel.
* No cargoes traded in the afternoon price assessment
window. Bids and offers came at $928-$934 a tonne cif NWE,
slipping from Tuesday's trade at $933 a tonne.
* The naphtha crack swap for April was trading at about
minus $4.72 a barrel.
(Reporting by Claire Milhench; Editing by Anthony Barker)