OPIS Headlines

February 25, 2015
Philadelphia Energy Solutions Restarting FCC, Crude Units: Trade

Philadelphia Energy Solutions are in the process of restarting a fluid catalytic cracking unit and a crude unit at its 355,000-b/d Philly refinery, trading sources told OPIS on Wednesday.

However, PES, a regular gasoline seller, remains conspicuously absent in the Northeast cash market so far. The absence reflects the ongoing restarting process, and the refinery has not restored normal operating rates yet.

PES reported a few flaring incidents last week, and so did PBF Energy. Flaring incidents at refineries amid cold weather could be attributed to the loss of steam.

OPIS reported on Monday that some Northeast and Mid-Atlantic oil refineries were continuing to run at reduced rates this week, following some operational hiccups last week due to extreme cold weather.

Monroe Energy restarted its Trainer, Pa., refinery along the Delaware River after a brief shutdown late last week, and it is now running at reduced rates. The refinery was forced to shut due to an inability to receive water supply from a frozen valve.

Phillips 66 had reduced operational rates at its Bayway refinery in New Jersey last week, but that refinery was expected to continue to run at lower rates during the cold weather.

The sputtering Northeast refinery operation status amid the cold weather caused some supply concerns, especially in the heating oil market. Gasoline remains adequately supplied based on the higher year-on-year inventory in PADD1.

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February 23, 2015
Vitol Europe-Bound Jet Fuel Imports Fall after Traders Leave

Vitol jet fuel imports to Europe have plunged in February and March, with the region's biggest supplier of the middle distillate shipping 135,000 metric tons on three ships over that period, OPIS data shows.

That compares to 423,000 tons in January and 285,000 tons in December, according to the OPIS Tanker Tracker.

Fourth quarter sales seen in the market totaled 34 cargoes, while six have been seen so far in 2015. Of these, five were made in January, analysis from brokers shows.

In mid-January, Vitol's head of the European jet desk and the trader who covered the Mediterranean market left the oil company, three sources told OPIS.

Vitol imported about 20% of the 13.89 million tons imported to northwest Europe in 2014, according to the OPIS Tanker Tracker, which compiles information from brokers, traders and satellite-tracking data.

The three ships Vitol currently has on the water include STI Dama that loaded in Bahrain, with 40,000 tons and is due to arrive in Rotterdam on March 9, while the tanker, Pelagos, is also due in the region by March 16.

The FD Sea Wish, which loaded 35,000 tons in Egypt, is understood to be heading for Fiumicino, Italy.

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February 18, 2015
Russian Distillate Cargoes Sailing to New York amid Heating Oil Shortfall

As many as six tankers laden with gasoil or diesel have been reportedly chartered over two weeks to make rare trans-Atlantic voyages to the U.S. East Coast from Baltic or Russian ports, amid heating oil shortfalls in New York.

Four of the six vessels are chartered by oil trader Vitol, according to data from brokers and traders compiled by the OPIS Tanker Tracker.

Most of the 235,000 metric tons (1.7 million/bbl) on the six ships is destined for the port of New York satellite-tracking data shows, with the first vessel arriving Feb. 19.

Heating oil demand has risen by an estimated 20% amid temporary shortfalls at terminals, heating oil traders and marketers told OPIS today.

The Vitol-controlled Miss Lucy, possibly carrying low-sulfur heating oil, arrives in New York tomorrow, after being loaded at the Baltic port of Ventspils. The Trafigura-chartered STI Regina is signaling it will arrive in New York on Feb. 26 and sailed from Klaipeida around Feb. 10.

Vitol has chartered two further tankers, STI Milwaukee and Loukas I, to load distillate cargoes from the Baltic region on Feb. 25, with options to discharge on the U.S. Atlantic coast.

Clearlake, the shipping arm of Swiss-based trader Gunvor, has similar options for a 44,000-ton cargo of ULSD being loaded at the Russian port of Primorsk on Feb. 23, information compiled by OPIS shows.

BP is also chartering the Nord Gardenia to take a 30,000-ton cargo of gasoil from Klaipeda to make the ten-12-day voyage across the Atlantic, with it due to arrive in the first days of March.

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February 9, 2015
Hurdles Could Remain for Phillips 66's Rodeo, Calif., Refinery Project

OPIS reported last week that the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors approved an environmental impact report (EIR) for the propane and butane recovery project at Phillips 66's 128,000-b/d Rodeo refinery in the San Francisco Bay Area.

It's possible that groups opposed to the project will file a lawsuit in an attempt to prevent the project from proceeding.

It was the opposition arising from such groups that contributed to more than a year of delays in the EIR finally getting approved on Tuesday of last week.

Contra Costa County's Planning Commission in November 2013 determined that the final EIR for the project was adequate and approved a land-use permit for the project. However, following the decision of the Planning Commission, two separate appeals were filed by Communities for a Better Environment, and Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger (on behalf of the Rodeo Citizens Association).

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors voted in June of last year to recirculate the environmental report, and a Recirculated Draft EIR eventually was made open to comment, with comments due in early December 2014. It was a Recirculated EIR that got approved Tuesday in a 4-1 vote.

Lashun Cross, principal planner at the Contra Costa County Department of Conservation and Development (DCD), told OPIS that the appellants and any parties opposing the project have 30 days to file a lawsuit with the Contra Costa County Superior Court of California. That 30-day period starts with the Posting of the Notice of Determination regarding the project, which occurred on Feb. 5.

"Phillips 66 will need to comply with all conditions of approval prior to issuance of any permits," Cross told OPIS. Only then can work on the project begin, she added.

Given the current status of the project, it's not surprising that Phillips 66 spokesman Dennis Nuss told OPIS last week, "A timeline for beginning construction is not being disclosed at this time."

Nuss noted that the project will create an estimated peak of 200 union, high-wage construction jobs during the 18-month construction period.

Phillips 66 says the objective of the project is to recover existing volumes of propane and butane already being produced at the refinery and already contained in the Refinery Fuel Gas (RFG) streams. Phillips 66 has said that it wants to recover for sale approximately 4,200 b/d of propane and 9,300 b/d of butane already existent in the RFG.

A report submitted last week by the Contra Costa County DCD to the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors provides a more detailed description of the project. "The project limits ... do not imply the Rodeo Refinery will change its facility or equipment to bring in heavy tar sands or change the crude slate," the report says. "Nor is the proposed Project dependent on any projects at the Phillips 66 Santa Maria refinery. To further emphasize that the recovery of the propane and butane (Liquid Petroleum Gas or LPG) is limited to levels of LPG currently produced, staff recommends an additional condition which requires that Phillips 66 Company shall ensure that the throughput of propane and butane be limited to 14,500 barrels per day."

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February 4, 2015
OPIS U.S. and Europe LPG Reports to Feature on Trayport

The OPIS North America LPG Report and OPIS Europe LPG Report will be available daily beginning Wednesday, Feb. 4 on Trayport's newly upgraded Light Ends Screen.

The Trayport screen enhancements include: a new tab to access the U.S. and European OPIS LPG daily reports, a new tab for U.S. NGL and petrochemical products, with several new brokers specializing in these markets, and a simpler, more efficient screen layout.

OPIS and Trayport will be providing users a four-week free trial to the reports.

Please contact oil@trayport.com for access to the screen.