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Petroleum Products

The Tears of a Refiner – New Gasoline Sulfur Regulations

A couple of months back in March 2013, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released proposed Tier 3 gasoline regulations that, if approved, will go into effect on January 1, 2017. The new rules include lower sulfur specifications for gasoline and tighter emissions controls for motor vehicles. Tier 3 also encourages acceptance of higher percentages of ethanol in gasoline. These regulations come at a time when US refinery gasoline blenders are jumping through hoops to handle a flood of new light shale crudes and increased demand for natural gasoline exports to Canada. Today we examines the proposals and their impact on gasoline and natural gas liquids markets.

If You’ve Got the Money We’ve Got the Crude – New Refineries in North Dakota

There is plenty of crude oil in North Dakota but the State does not refine enough of it to meet rising demand for diesel caused by booming energy industry activity. The latest North Dakota Pipeline Authority data shows oil production in February 2013 up 40 percent since February 2012 to 778 Mb/d.  Demand for diesel increased 35 percent between February 2010 and February 2013. North Dakota’s only refinery produces less than half the diesel the State consumes. To help remedy that disparity the first new refinery to be built in the Lower 48 since 1977 is under construction today and two more new refineries are planned. Today we look at the refinery economics.

Fifty Shades of Blending – Could Condensate be the “Tiger in Your Tank”? (April Fool)

The start of April marks the traditional summer driving season. Domestic demand for gasoline is waning due to renewable fuels and higher fuel economy standards. At the same time the tight oil shale revolution is delivering greater volumes of lighter sweeter crudes to US refineries – including condensates. Those light crudes produce more gasoline when refined but can cause problems for refineries not configured to handle them. Today we describe a revolutionary process that could potentially bypass refinery distillation.

Will RIN (and Stimpy) Dodge the Ethanol Blend Wall in 2013?

When we described the quirky workings of the US renewable fuels mandates back in July and August of 2012 the topic was merely brain food for commodity market theorists and sleep deprived gasoline analysts. This month the market for big brother sounding “Renewable Identification Numbers” (RINS) - credited to refiners when they add ethanol to gasoline blends - is suddenly the hottest thing since sliced bread. The price of 2013 RINS shot from a few cnts/gal in January 2013 to an astronomical $1/gal on March 8, 2013. Earlier this week they were trading in the stratosphere, at about $0.70/gal. Today we look at what lies behind the current RIN furor.

Skipping the Alkylate Fandango - The Octane Boost in Gasoline Blending

Alkylate is a valuable blending component that accounts for about 12 percent of the US gasoline pool. Alkylate is manufactured by combining elements derived from NGLs and crude oil refining and is an important link between these two hydrocarbon markets. Alkylate has critical qualities required to meet complex modern gasoline quality specifications. Today we look at the qualities and manufacture of alkylate.

Baby You Can Drive My Exports – Competing for Diesel and Gasoline Market Share

Increased refined product exports from US Gulf refineries are being driven by diesel refining margins but a lot of by-product gasoline is being produced as a result.  Domestic demand for diesel and gasoline has declined over the past 5 years. Fortunately for refiners there is strong demand for diesel and gasoline in Latin America as well as for diesel in Europe. Important cost advantages stemming from the shale revolution are helping Gulf Coast refiners secure these markets against international competitors. Today we conclude our analysis of booming Gulf Coast exports.

Yo Ho Ho and a Cargo of Bunkers – How New Sulfur Regulations Threaten to Hijack 40 Percent of the Fuel Oil Market

Forty percent of the world’s fuel oil - the residual oil left over after extracting lighter products from crude oil - is used as bunker oil to power Ocean going vessels. Much of that fuel has relatively high sulfur content. Given that refineries sell fuel oil for less than the cost of crude – the bunkers market has traditionally been a convenient dumping ground for unwanted high sulfur residual fuel oil. New international regulations that came into force in 2012 drastically reduce the permitted sulfur content in bunkers after 2015 in the world’s populated coastal regions. Today we describe the impact the new rules could have on refiners.

Yo Ho Ho And A Cargo of Bunkers – Pirates of the Caribbean Terminals – Part 2

Several large deep-water terminals located strategically on Caribbean islands play an important role in the international fuel oil trade. These terminals can berth larger vessels than most Gulf Coast ports – making them ideal staging points for transshipment of ocean bound cargoes coming and going from Europe, Asia or Latin America. With its recent acquisition of the Hess East Coast terminal assets, Buckeye looks set to become a dominant player in the Caribbean terminal and storage market. Today we conclude a two-part survey of Caribbean fuel terminals.

Yo Ho Ho And A Cargo of Bunkers – Pirates of the Caribbean Terminals – BORCO

Last Wednesday (October 9, 2013) Buckeye Partners announced an agreement to purchase Hess Oil’s East Coast terminal assets – including a crude and fuel oil terminal on the Island of St Lucia in the Caribbean. Buckeye already own a large oil storage terminal in the Bahamas, known as BORCO so with the new acquisition they will become the largest storage and terminal player in the Caribbean market. The fuel oil trade in the region is a combination of local bunkers supply, fuel oil for power plants and larger scale transshipments of fuel oil for international markets. Today we look at fuel oil terminal facilities in the Caribbean.

Yo Ho Ho and a Cargo of Bunkers – The Kinder/TransMontaigne BOSTCO Terminal

The BOSTCO Terminal started operations this week on the Houston Ship Channel. By early next year (2014) the terminal will have 6 MMBbl of storage capacity. This $500 Million investment by two midstream companies is designed to meet the expanding needs of fuel oil blenders at the Gulf Coast. Before the first phase could be completed, 900 MBbl of additional refined product storage planned for phase two, was snapped up by Morgan Stanley for distillate fuels. Today we describe the terminal facilities and ownership structure.