* Margins under pressure seasonally: reut.rs/2ngywJq
* Profits expected to spike in coming weeks
* Traders look for maximum flexibility
* U.S. gasoline stocks slide: reut.rs/2ngOgfl
By Libby George
LONDON, March 23 Cargoes of floating gasoline
are building off the shores of Europe as margins hold near their
lowest level seasonally since 2009, traders and market sources
At least five ships with some 300,000 tonnes of gasoline are
anchored outside northwest Europe as traders and refiners wait
for an expected spike in profits before selling them in coming
Margins for the motor fuel are expected to move sharply
higher in the next few weeks as consumers and traders turn to
"It pays to wait," one source told Reuters.
Industry monitor Genscape is tracking 390,000 tonnes of
gasoline or reformate, which is used to create summer-quality
fuel, in vessels including the Amorea, the Hamburg Star, the
Hafnia Europe and the Clio circling outside European ports.
Summer is almost always the hottest season for gasoline as
consumers in the United States, whose cars guzzle roughly one in
every 10 barrels of oil consumed per day, hit the road for
This year, the gap between profits now and those expected
when summer demand starts is even starker as an excess of winter
fuel kept prices in check.
Exports to the United States from Europe were limited as the
U.S. East Coast import hub was so oversupplied with winter
gasoline that it exported cargoes to West Africa. U.S. refiners
also cut their gasoline yield in an effort to stem the glut.
U.S. gasoline stocks as a result have shed some
16 million barrels since early February, Energy Information
Administration data shows, which could pave the way for imports.
"The forward values are already much higher," one trader
said. "Next week, when summer pricing starts, it will be $5
Gasoline stocks in the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp hub fell
nearly 25 percent to 889,000 tonnes this week, below the peak of
1.33 million tonnes in the first quarter last year, indicating
there is room in the continent's cheaper onshore tanks.
But the owners of the cargoes, which trade sources said
included Shell and Gunvor, are aiming for maximum flexibility to
ship them quickly to lucrative foreign markets.
"The arbitrage to the United States needs to reopen. Europe
needs the outlet," said Olivier Jakob, managing director of
But he cautioned that with U.S. refiners coming back after
shutdowns, "the strength of the (margin) recovery is still a bit
of a question."
(Additional reporting by Amanda Cooper, Ron Bousso, Ahmad
Ghaddar; Editing by Dale Hudson)