This is a very naive question, but if gasoline is way up doesn't this mean that buying crude would be profitable since gasoline is a reasonable proportion of the refining of oil and shouldn't this make crude go up with crude at a 6 month low at 46 a barrel? Does the flooding in Houston cause demand for crude to fall by that much to offset it, and is there an effect from the reduction in crude supply that shutting down drilling and possibly refining would cause?

John Netto writes: 

Vic, my apologies in getting this to you so late. I consulted my colleague who actively trades the US-Europe energy complex and he broke down how this situation with the rise of gasoline has very little impact on the price of crude oil.

Flooding in Houston depresses all kind of demand, both electricity and gasoline (no driving), but the impact on electricity is larger. Mostly this is a supply issue for gasoline alone.

The refineries are offline for awhile, so timespreads blow out (Sep/Oct and Oct/Nov go ballistic) because the gasoline supply is not there. The timespreads strengthening opens up the arbitrage to bring over European gasoline from Europe (via ship). So the arb guys sell US gasoline, buy European gasoline, and book a ship. So the supply is coming regardless of what happens to the refineries.

Crude doesn't necessarily move because crude is not being used while the refineries do not run.

More refinery downtime = no crude demand.

Once the refineries go back online, there isn't really much of an "overdrive" option to run even faster (individual refinery runs can go up and down marginally, but usually don't vary that much to matter vs off)

I hope this clarified your question.


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