By Brian L. Milne, Energy Editor, Schneider Electric
Wholesale gasoline costs moved lower mid-October, declining despite little change in the week-over-week value for gasoline futures through Oct. 18, with the New York Mercantile Exchange RBOB futures contract rallying to a one-month high at $2.7240 gallon Oct. 16 on news a deal to end the government shutdown and avert a default on US debt was coming together.
The contract quickly retraced the uptrend during the following session, while gaining Oct. 18. Refinery maintenance season lends upside support for the NYMEX RBOB futures contract since units close for the work, reducing gasoline production. Still, gasoline is seasonally weak during the fourth quarter, with support found during the heavy travel season during Thanksgiving, and with December holidays.
The 16-day partial government shutdown forced the Energy Information Administration (EIA) to furlough workers and close offices Oct. 11, delaying closely watched data from the Beltway. EIA workers, returning to work Oct. 17 after the shutdown were quick in restoring service, releasing their surveys for retail gasoline and diesel fuel later that same day.
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EIA reported the sixth consecutive decline in its average price for regular grade gasoline, all formulations, sold at retail outlets across the county for the week-ended Oct. 14, with the average down 1.3 cents to $3.354 gallon. That’s a better than eight-month low, with the previous low in mid-January.
The American Petroleum Institute Oct. 18 reported a 3.5% decline in total gasoline deliveries to market from August to September, which serves as implied demand, with total gasoline supplied averaging 8.7 million bpd for the month. The decline from August is consistent with historical data, pressured by less driving following summer vacations. September’s deliveries were, however, 2.1% higher than September 2012, maintaining the higher year-over-year demand rate experienced through the summer.
Still, September gasoline deliveries were the second lowest for a September since 2008, also maintaining the longer-term lower trend for gasoline demand that began in 2007.
For the third quarter, API reported gasoline deliveries 1.2% higher than during the comparable year-ago period. For the first three quarters of the year, implied gasoline demand edged up 0.3% compared with the first nine months of 2012.
About the Author
Brian L. Milne is the Energy Editor for Schneider Electric—a leading business-to-business provider of real-time commodity information services among many other activities. Milne has been focused on the energy industry for 17 years as an analyst, journalist and editor. He can be reached at [email protected].