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American Gasoline Finds New Market in Australia

Lower American gasoline demand, higher fuel production after refiners returned from autumn maintenance, and cheaper prices due to a supply glut and transit issues at the Panama Canal prompted some rare shipments of U.S. gasoline cargoes to places such as Mozambique and Australia, Reuters reports, citing ship-tracking data.  

The tanker STI Madison, which was chartered by TotalEnergies’ Atlantic Trading & Marketing, loaded 700,000 barrels of gasoline from Marathon Petroleum’s refinery in Garyville, Louisiana, in the middle of December, and is expected to unload in Sydney around the end January, according to LSEG ship-tracking data cited by Reuters. 

This would be the first cargo of gasoline from the U.S. to Australia in almost three years as gasoline supplies in the U.S. Gulf Coast are quite cheap now. 

Traders, however, don’t expect a surge in shipments from the U.S. to Australia, expecting the price differences to narrow in the near term.

Refiners in the U.S. Gulf Coast have slashed the prices of gasoline for exports, due to the drought and water shortage on the Panama Canal, where tanker and container vessel traffic has been restricted for months. 

As of the middle of December, the U.S. Gulf Coast was the cheapest source of gasoline to almost everyone in the Atlantic basin, Philip Jones-Lux, a gasoline analyst at data provider Sparta Commodities, told Reuters at the time.

Due to the Panama Canal restrictions, the number of gasoline cargoes from the United States transiting the canal was nearly half in November 2023 compared to November 2022, Reuters notes. 

U.S. supply of gasoline is also higher, due to the seasonal fall in U.S. gasoline demand, which has been raising commercial oil product inventories in America in recent weeks. 

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U.S. gasoline prices are falling and could decline to under $3 for the first time since 2021, amid sluggish demand, GasBuddy’s Patrick De Haan said earlier this month.    

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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