Gas prices surge on deluge of bad news

Nightmare at the Gas Pump

It was a weekend of horror for drivers in the Midwest if they dared to pull up to the gas pump. A series of events conspired to create a historic gas price spike and ultimately a gas shock pop. The Enbridge pipeline delay was the icing on the cake as the market was suffering from a string of refining issues.

It seems the Federal government is not allowing Enbridge to restart until Enbridge submits a detailed restart plan and undergo a third-party audit. That, in the aftermath of an announcement from the BP refinery fire in Whiting, Indiana and a fire at Lemont, created the perfect scenario for a price spike. Add to it, surging oil prices being driven mainly by stimulus hopes and a better than expected jobs number and storms in the Gulf of Mexico and it is enough to make a motorist scream.

Bloomberg News reported that the BP Whiting refinery began to shut its one crude unit for six to eight weeks of planned work, and expects a coker to be closed after a July 23 fire to be down three to five weeks more for repairs, a person with knowledge of operations said. The shutting of a crude unit safely can take several days, and once it’s shut, maintenance on the unit known as Pipe still 11A will begin, said the person, who declined to be identified because he isn’t authorized to speak for the company. Several compressors are also being halted during the work.

The 420,000-barrel-a-day plant is the largest oil refinery serving the Chicago market. It is 17 miles (27 kilometers) south of Chicago and receives crude from Cushing, Oklahoma, via an 180,000-barrel-a-day pipeline, according to energy information provider Genscape Inc.

Add to that another refinery that is fed by that Enbridge pipeline was also shut. Reuters News reported that the Citgo Petroleum Corp reported a unit shutdown after an upset at its 167,000-barrel-per-day refinery in Lemont, Illinois that led to flaring late Friday, according to a notice filed with state pollution regulators. The unit was shut down, Citgo stated in its filing with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency said. Citgo is the U.S. refining subsidiary of Venezuela's state-owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA.

Of course oil was on fire as stocks soared, apparently inebriated by a better than expected jobs number. Yet the real reason why the market rallied was because members of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s inner circle said that they would not stand in the way of ECB chief Mario Draghi's plan to buy distressed European debt.

Oil shorts were worried to be short with all of the tropical weather threats in the Gulf of Mexico. It appears that the storms, while still a threat, will only slow imports.

Last week we should have seen oil supply rebound! Look for crude supply to be up 3.0 million barrels, gas supply up 2.0 million barrels and distillate supply should be up 2.5 and refinery runs down 0.5.

There is also the geo-political side of the oil equation. Syria’s Prime Minister defected to Jordan. Dow Jones reports bomb strikes at the main export pipeline carrying Iraqi crude oil from Kirkuk fields to the Turkish port of Ceyhan, cutting off flows and causing a huge fire, two Middle East shipping agents say.

About the Author
Phil Flynn

Senior energy analyst at The PRICE Futures Group and a Fox Business Network contributor. He is one of the world's leading market analysts, providing individual investors, professional traders, and institutions with up-to-the-minute investment and risk management insight into global petroleum, gasoline, and energy markets. His precise and timely forecasts have come to be in great demand by industry and media worldwide and his impressive career goes back almost three decades, gaining attention with his market calls and energetic personality as writer of The Energy Report. You can contact Phil by phone at (888) 264-5665 or by email at Learn even more on our website at


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