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Sunny skies over Houston Ship Channel get oil barges moving: trade

Barge congestion for light ends on the Houston Ship Channel eased under sunny skies Tuesday after several days of foggy weather and loading delays that stretched well past 10 days, up from the three to seven days typical outside major storage facilities, market sources said.

Delays in loading refined products and blendstocks barges at the two main terminals — Kinder Morgan and Magellan near Pasadena, Texas — were heard Tuesday at three to 12 days from the time when the barge was available. As recently as Monday, delays had been reported at eight to 15 days, market sources said.

“Someone mentioned that boats were backed up until March 20,” suggesting a 15-day delay, a US light ends source said. “Others are saying not that long,but very close to that.”

Kinder Morgan spokeswoman Lexey Long said operations were normal at the company’s terminals.

“Our Galena Park facility is operating normally from a mechanical standpoint,” said Magellan spokesman Bruce Heine. “However, we have encountered some vessel delays, which have been associated with weather-related events over the past two weeks.”

Fog through Monday night restricted traffic during an unusually gloomy spring. As of March 3, the ship channel had shut for 262 hours so far this year, the equivalent of 10.9 days, according to data that S&P Global Platts compiled.

The rate of closure is on pace for 58 days for all of 2019, data showed. In comparison, the channel was shut for 22.37 days in all of 2018, data showed.

“I hear it’s a mixed bag, but things are getting cleared up,” a second US light ends source said Tuesday. “This fog has been a [state of confusion] for the terminals.”

Houston may just get one more day of respite from the clouds. Showers and reduced visibility are expected across the city Thursday through Saturday, according to the Weather Underground website.

The impact of barge delays has not been reflected in the cash markets, partly because gasoline demand has been weak. Barge conventional gasoline has

held at 2 cents above Colonial Pipeline gasoline since January 23, Platts data showed.
Source: Platts

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