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U.S. Refinery Outages Are Another Headache For Biden

While gasoline prices continue to be a troubling political factor for the Biden Administration, the recent inclement weather in refinery country on the U.S. Gulf Coast has caused two major refineries to shut down.

While Gas Buddy indicated that gasoline prices would start to ease somewhat this week, Marathon Petroleum’s 593,000 bpd Galveston Bay refinery is shut down for the foreseeable future, thanks to a citywide power outage during freezing temperatures. Marathon has not given any indication on when the refinery—the second largest in the United States—might restart.

Valero’s (NYSE: VLO) Texas City 225,000 bpd refinery has also shut down. Like Marathon, Valero has not given any indication when the refinery will be back up. Reports also came in on Monday that Valero’s Houston refinery was flaring—a safety event used to manage excess material.

Total gasoline inventories in the United States have been slowly building over the last few weeks, ending at 250 million barrels as of January 28, before the storm. U.S. gasoline inventories started their most recent build streak during the last week of 2021, gaining 27.4 million barrels since December 24, according to EIA data.

But those builds haven’t subdued the price at the pump for Americans, who have a history of being unkind to the ruling party at the voting booth when under the yolk of high gasoline prices.

The refinery outages have caused refinery stocks—including Valero and Marathon--to trade higher on Monday.

Gasoline prices were also spiking on Monday, with the nation’s average up 8 cents from a week ago and 12.3 cents a month ago at $3.42 per gallon, according to Gas Buddy.

By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com

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