By ANGEL GONZALEZ and BEN LEFEBVRE
HOUSTON -- A lethal blast at Petroleos de Venezuela
S.A.s giant Amuay refinery is boosting the shares of US
refiners well positioned to send fuel products to the oil-rich
South American country.
Shares of Valero Energy, the largest independent refiner in
the US by market value, went up 5.23% to $30.77 on Monday.
The San Antonio company has a large presence in the US Gulf
Coast, from where it shipped overseas about 9% of the gasoline
and diesel it produced in the second quarter, mainly to Latin
America and Europe.
Shares for rival Marathon Petroleum, which has a large refinery in Louisiana and a smaller
one in Texas, went up 2.46% to $49.95. Phillips 66, which also
has Louisiana facilities, saw its shares jump 1.6%
to $42.01 early in the morning, although it later pared its
gains to $41.38, up 0.05%.
The increases come even as these and other refiners are
shutting down their facilities in the northern Gulf
Coast in preparation for the arrival late Tuesday of Tropical
Storm Isaac, which is expected to strengthen into a
The blast, which took place Saturday in the 640,000 bpd Amuay
refinery in western Venezuela, killed at least 41 people and
destroyed storage tanks and hundreds of nearby homes.
Government officials said Sunday the refinery can be restarted in two
days once the blaze is extinguished, but on Monday the fire
Analysts with Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. said in a
research note that the government's assessment is at a
minimum too early to be fully relied upon. The analysts
said that an outage could help lift US Gulf Coast refining margins.
The regions refiners have been increasing output in
recent quarters to offset lower volumes coming from Venezuela's
refineries, which have been hobbled by maintenance issues. The oil-rich
nation is also sending more of its supplies to allies in Latin
America and China.
The US Energy Information Administration said that Venezuela
accounted for just 1.8% of US petroleum-product imports last
May, far below the recent peak of 11% in March 2006. Since
then, the US has become a net exporter of refined products as
production capacity has expanded while domestic demand has
Analysts with Simmons & Co. said Amuays refinery
operating units don't seem affected by the fire, and they could
theoretically be restarted fairly quickly.
But whether the refinery can return to normal rates
with a reduced storage capacity is in doubt, the analysts said,
adding that the outage has reportedly forced
state-owned PdVSA to buy products from US refiners.
Those purchases should be supportive of near-term
product prices and refining margins, the Simmons
Dow Jones Newswires