* Pacific Northwest gasoline may jump 20 cts -analyst
* Cargoes already headed to West Coast on Calif prices
HOUSTON Feb 19 A Friday fire that idled
BP Plc's 225,000 barrel per day (bpd) Cherry
Point, Washington, refinery was expected by market analysts on
Sunday to lift gasoline prices on the U.S. West Coast in the
More tankers loaded with gasoline were also expected to move
to the West Coast because of the idled BP plant, which is the
third largest refinery in the region. Cargoes from Asian
refineries are already said to be headed to the West Coast due
to high fuel prices in California.
"The arbitrage to the West Coast is already open," said
David Hackett, president of Stillwater Associates, an
transportation energy consulting firm in Irvine, California.
"Some cargoes now headed for California might end up going to
the Pacific Northwest."
Wholesale gasoline prices finished in the Los Angeles market
on Friday at 33.5 cents a gallon over March NYMEX RBOB gasoline
while gasoline in the Pacific Northwest market finished at 7
cents a gallon over the March NYMEX contract.
By Tuesday, the premium for gasoline in the region could be
approaching the Los Angeles level, said petroleum industry
analyst Bob van der Valk of Terry, Montana.
"I think it will have a major impact," van der Valk said. "I
see Portland-Seattle market prices jumping between 15 and 20
cents a gallon."
Consumers may not feel the price increase from the idled
refinery right away, said the head of Washington state's
gasoline retailers association. Service stations in the region
were hit with a 15-cent per gallon increase due to higher crude
prices last week. Retail prices were up about 10 cents a gallon
in the Seattle area as of Sunday.
"You have to assume the price is going up, how long it takes
is the question," said Tim Hamilton, executive director of the
Automotive United Trades Organization.
On Sunday, BP was assessing damage from the 1-hour fire
Friday that shut the Cherry Point refinery's crude distillation
unit, said BP spokesman Scott Dean. The refinery's other
production units were idled in warm standby mode due to the
crude unit shutdown.
The refinery's supply and logistics staff were also working
to identify replacement supplies of refined products so BP can
meet its contractual obligations, Dean said.
West Coast gasoline inventories retreated 248,000 barrels
during the week of Feb 10 to 31.56 million barrels, in the most
recent report compiled by the U.S. Energy Information
In California, gasoline stockpiles fell 228,000 barrels last
week to 6.186 million barrels, according to the California