Oil markets hit by Storm Harvey; US dollar extends fall

Massive floods caused by Hurricane Harvey forced several refineries to close along the US Gulf Coast

Flooding from Tropical Storm Harvey has shut almost a fifth of US oil-refining capacity, triggering worries about a gasoline supply crunch as the slow-moving tempest lumbers through the heart of America's petrochemicals industry.

Houston also is the starting point of the massive Colonial Pipeline that takes gasoline, diesel and jet fuel as far north as NY, but operations had not been affected as of this afternoon; Shell is one of Colonial\'s partners.

USA gasoline prices have surged. September futures expired Thursday after rising for an eighth session, climbing 13.5 percent to close at $2.1399, the highest for front-month prices since June 2015.

Mohan Singh, who works at the Sunoco station on the corner of Route 23 and Spring Street, said the prices there, which was $2.63 a gallon for regular Friday, steadily went up during the week. He estimated it could affect 1 percent of the USA gross domestic product, eventually costing about $160 billion. That can be seen at the pump where the national average has jumped 17 cents over the last week to $2.52 a gallon, setting a new high for the year and going over $2.50 for the first time in two years. "To start, in California, you have the toughest gas to make in the country".

The shutdown of nearly a quarter of U.S. crude refining capacity in the wake of Hurricane Harvey is presenting a rare opportunity for fuel traders in Asia.

The largest refinery in the United States, located in Port Arthur, Texas, was among the shuttered Thursday.

The backlog in unexported refined products will be a challenge to Texas Gulf Coast refiners, according to Sandy Fielden, an analyst at Morningstar. "There's plenty of gasoline in the state of Texas", he said.

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Canadian gasoline prices vary substantially by region and city, with Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and most of the Atlantic provinces below the national average.

Brent prices have fallen 1.79% in the past week due to fears of an inventory build up as a result of the storm. Prices spiked significantly from Wednesday to Thursday, accounting for more than 7 cents of the recent spike, according to AAA data.

Prices have already risen earlier than they normally would in Idaho, according to AAA Idaho Public and Government Affairs Director Matthew Conde.

Gasoline in NY has jumped above US$2 a gallon for first time since 2015. That price was lately 24 cents above benchmark futures RBc1, traders said.

"The spike should be short-lived", Flynn said.

"The flooding now taking place is however leading to a greater loss of onshore supply (from the Eagle Ford) than historically has been the case", the analysts said.

"It went up a little bit, but not as insane as it was a couple years ago when it went above $3 a gallon", Donelson said as she pumped gas at the Sunoco.


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