UpdateBrazil demand helps boost US gasoline exports to record

20 October 2011 22:51  [Source: ICIS news]

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HOUSTON (ICIS)--Demand in Brazilian and South American markets pushed US gasoline exports to record levels, an analyst said on Thursday.

“[US] demand for gasoline is not driven by just demand in this country but demand in emerging markets,” said analyst Phil Flynn with PFGBest. “A lot of our gasoline we’re not using because of weak demand so it’s going to Brazil and South America where demand is strong.”

In Brazil, the number of all commercial and light vehicles that were licensed in January through September reached 4.26m units, up 8.40% from 3.93m from the same period in 2010, according to Fenabrave, the nation's automobile distributors trade group.

In 2010, vehicle licensing hit a record, reaching 5.44m versus 4.84m in 2009, Fenabrave said.

Brazil is taking action to meet rising fuel demand, but the solutions are long term and will take time to come on line. Petrobras plans to invest $127.5bn (93.1bn) in exploration, $70.6bn in refining and transportations and $13.2bn in gas and power during 2011-2015.  

In addition, the company started its Colina ethanol refinery in the state of San Paulo on 26 August. The plant is operated by Petrobras and Tereos with a capacity to produce 107,000 cubic metres/year of ethanol.

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported the US was exporting 536,000 bbl/day of gasoline during the week of 14 October. This was the highest level of reported exports since reporting on exports began in June 2010.

This contributed to the 3.3m bbl loss in gasoline stockpiles for the week ended 14 October. Exports the prior week were reported at 336,000 bbl/day.

Weak demand in the US has been pushing gasoline prices lower and causing producers and sellers to find additional outlets for gasoline sales.

The EIA reported gasoline consumption was down 412,000 bbl/day the week of 14 October, at 8.598m bbl/day.

Flynn said traditionally the US has been the "gasoline king", recording the highest gasoline demand and consistently importing gasoline, particularly from Europe. The EIA reported imports at 458,000 bbl/day, 78,000 bbl/day less than export levels.

The role as a net exporter of gasoline for the US is counter to historical trends, but the new role is expected to stick.

“I think this will be a continuing trend with more growth in other countries and as the US moves away from gasoline-powered cars,” Flynn said.

($1 = €0.73)

By: Sheena Martin
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