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Reliance halts gasoline shipments from Jamnagar site causing fuel margins to spike

Anik Paul 0

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Reliance Industries has declared force majeure on gasoline exports from its Jamnagar site, four people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday, causing the profit margin from producing the fuel to jump to its highest since September.

The force majeure follows an unspecified issue at a gasoline-producing fluid catalytic cracker (FCC) unit in its export-oriented refinery, two of the people said. That plant can process more than 5,00,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil and is located in Jamnagar’s special economic zone.

Reliance filed a statement to the National Stock Exchange of India stating it has shut one of its FCC units and that the unit is expected to restart within two weeks. It added that the rest of the Jamnagar complex is operating normally and it does not expect the shutdown to have any material impact on overall operations.

The filing did not say what caused the FCC to shut or comment on the force majeure of gasoline supplies.

Force majeure is typically declared when matters deemed beyond a refinery’s control disrupt supplies, allowing it to void some of its contractual obligations to customers. Reliance operates one other refinery in Jamnagar, located in western India, that mainly meets domestic demand.

The people said at least two gasoline cargoes scheduled for this month’s loading from Reliance were affected, one of which was destined for Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates. The people declined to be identified because they were not authorised to speak with media.

According to ship tracking data on Thomson Reuters Eikon, four gasoline cargoes were scheduled to load from Sikka on to ships chartered by Vitol, Emirates National Oil Company (ENOC), Oman Trading International and Royal Dutch Shell since August 10.

Two of the four vessels have been anchored at the port since August 13 while the other ships are either en route or at a nearby port.

The force majeure on gasoline supplies was declared this week and this could last at least eight days, one of the four people said. It was not immediately clear what the issue at the FCC was, but it is expected to be resolved soon, another source said.

“This will have quite an impact on the (Asian) gasoline market,” said a Singapore-based trader, adding that the market was already reacting to talk of trouble at Reliance’s gasoline-making unit even before it declared force majeure.

Reliance offered a heavy naphtha cargo for export last month, which traders took as a sign its gasoline-making unit could be hit by glitches. Heavy naphtha is a feedstock for gasoline or paraxylene and Reliance does not usually offer the grade.

Asia’s gasoline crack, which measures the profit margin from refining a barrel of Brent crude into the fuel, rose by 30% from Tuesday to $11.55 a barrel, the highest since September 20.

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