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U.S. gasoline imports from Europe to hit high record after Ida strike

Gasoline prices 9 months high

U.S. gasoline imports and blending components from Europe and the Baltic will reach about half a million tons this week, according to a report by Reuters, citing preliminary data by Vortexa. Such an amount would be the highest record of gasoline imports since late May. The smash to the refining capacity from Hurricane Ida in the U.S. would be the main factor for the increase.

According to Reuters, imports along the route reached 426,000 tons, on the week ending September 5, according to data from oil analytics firm Vortexa. For the next week, that number will increase substantially, the firms say.

This sharp increase is mainly attributable to the smash from Hurricane Ida to the refining capacity of the U.S. Gulf Coast. As we reported previously, the hurricane knocked out of operations around 90% of all offshore oil and gas output from the United States.

In addition, much of the onshore refining capacity in Louisiana and New Orleans was also hit. According to data from the Department of Energy, as of this Monday, five major refineries in Louisiana remained shut. The overall refining capacity accounted for those five refineries is of around 1 million barrels per day; or about 6% of the total U.S. capacity.

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SPR oil as a strategy to keep U.S. gasoline flowing

However, DOE said three refineries in the Baton Rouge area and one other in the New Orleans region begun operations, accounting for 1,3 million barrels per day. Yet another strategy from the U.S. government to ensure the flow of gasoline is injecting to operational refiners a high amount of crude oil from the strategic petroleum reserve.

As we reported previously, DOE authorized the release of around 1,5 million barrels to the Baton Rouge refinery of ExxonMobil. The release was to “alleviate any logistical issues of moving crude oil within areas affected by Hurricane Ida; to ensure the region has access to fuel as quickly as possible; as they continue their recovery.” DOE said in a release.

Last week, President Joe Biden directed federal agencies to use “all tools necessary” to keep gasoline flowing in Louisiana and the Mississippi region after Hurricane Ida havoc. Included in those tools was the release of a certain number of barrels from the SPR.

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