September 17, 2012 / 5:42 PM / in 5 years

Europe Gasoline/Naphtha-Mixed as arb opportunities limited

LONDON, Sept 17 (Reuters) - Gasoline and naphtha prices were
mixed on Monday as a lack of arbitrage opportunities and high
outright crude prices dampened demand while maintenance and
strikes in Portugal lent support.    
    Petrochemical demand for naphtha as a feedstock has fallen
due to high oil prices and with the propane-naphtha spread
narrowing towards parity.
    "The increase in flat price is hitting petrochemical margins
and therefore demand," said one naphtha trader, "(There is) no
arbitrage out of Europe to the East, trans-Atlantic or Brazil."
    Despite the lack of a workable arbitrage, Vitol fixed a long
range vessel to Asia, one participant said.
    Gasoline cracks were higher than on Friday but well below
recent highs as cheaper winter specification gasoline enters the
market. The cheaper grade would also make blending for the U.S.
market and therefore exports easier, a gasoline trader said.
    Workers at Portuguese oil company Galp started a three-day
strike on Monday that affected some of its crude refining
operations, but the company said fuel supplies continued to flow
    The strike against labour reforms began at Portugal's two
refineries, sea terminals and a gas pipeline. 
    Oil trader Gunvor will shut its newly acquired 110,000
barrel per day Antwerp refinery in Belgium for around five weeks
of planned maintenance. 
    Meanwhile, Venezuela's largest refinery, the 645,000 bpd
Amuay plant, was starting to ramp up and was operating at
330,000 bpd. The catalytic cracking unit at the refinery is due
to restart on Thursday after it was stopped last month following
a deadly explosion and fire. 
    Low water levels mean cargo vessels cannot sail fully loaded
on the Danube river in Germany but sailing is back to normal on
the Rhine, traders said on Monday.

    * No barges of benchmark Eurobob traded in the window for a
sixth session. 
    * Some 4,000 tonnes traded ahead of the window at
$1,127-$1,131 a tonne fob ARA, up from $1,122-$1,125 a tonne on
    * The trades came at premiums to the October swap of
$62.50-$65.00 a tonne, up from $54/50-$58 a tonne.
    * Hess, Gunvor and Chevron sold to Cargill and Lukoil.
    * At 1538 GMT Eurobob's crack to dated Brent BFO- was at
around $18.70 a barrel, up from $16.43 a barrel around the same
time on Thursday, but well below the highs near $25 seen earlier
in the month.
    * Four barges of premium unleaded gasoline traded in the
window at $1,131-$1,137 a tonne, down from $1,140 and $1,144 a
    * Gunvor, Statoil and Glencore sold to Vitol and Total.
    * ICE Brent crude futures were down 48 cents at
$116.18 a barrel at 1607 GMT.
    * October U.S. RBOB gasoline futures were down 0.44
percent at $3.0029 a gallon around the same time.
    * RBOB's crack to U.S. crude futures RB-CL1=R was at
$26.84 a barrel, down from $27.99 a barrel at around the same
time on Friday. 
    * Two cargoes traded in the window at $982 a tonne cif
Northwest Europe, down from Friday's deals at $1,001-$1,004 a
    * The prompt naphtha crack rose slightly to around minus
$5.86 a barrel, up from minus $6.21 on Friday, according to
Reuters data.

 (Reporting by Julia Payne; Editing by Anthony Barker)

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