May 23, 2019 / 4:02 PM / a month ago

HollyFrontier halts operations at Tulsa, Oklahoma refinery as rain hits region

(Reuters) - HollyFrontier on Thursday said it is temporarily shutting operations at its 155,300-barrel-per-day Tulsa, Oklahoma, refinery as a precaution due to high water, the latest headache due to bad weather in the region.

Severe storms have brought heavy rain and rising floodwaters to Oklahoma this week, prompting the city of Tulsa to issue flood warnings. As of Tuesday, parts of the state had received 6 to 8 inches (15-20 cm) of rain from the previous day, the National Weather Service said.

The Midwest region has been hit with rain throughout the spring, disrupting typical supply and demand of refined products in the region, while ongoing refinery maintenance has scrambled market conditions further.

The weather has in particular delayed planting for farmers. Oklahoma is currently behind its 2014-2018 average in planting cotton, sorghum and peanuts, according to the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture report.

Demand for diesel - a fuel used to power farming equipment - has subsequently suffered. Cash prices for the product in Group Three, a market based in Tulsa, fell to 4.25 cents a gallon on Wednesday, the lowest since February, traders said.

Meanwhile, Midwest refinery utilization rates fell to 82.7% of capacity last week, the lowest for the month of May since 2013, U.S. Energy Information Administration data showed.

Midwest crude inventories rose last week to 142.4 million barrels, the highest since November 2017, while regional gasoline stocks fell to 47.4 million barrels, the lowest weekly for May since 2014, EIA data showed.

Reporting by K. Sathya Narayanan in Bengaluru; editing by Jonathan Oatis; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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