Wind gusts drive up value of some barge products in Houston Ship Channel

Winds at 20 to 25 mph displaced water in the Houston Ship Channel on Friday, interfering with navigation in parts of the waterway and driving up the value of barge-borne products.

Traders covering shorts in the barge cash markets also contributed to rising differentials, market sources said.

The National Weather Service at League City near the channel said the winds were expected to back off to 5 mph late Friday and into Saturday. No further winds above 10 mph were forecast during the next five days.

Gusts beginning late Thursday deepened some parts of the channel and left others unnaturally shallow, reducing the scope of navigable waters. Houston Pilots said a considerable amount of water was pushed out of the channel toward the Gulf of Mexico.

Light straight run naphtha barges at 83 API (LSR) were heard traded at February natural gasoline plus 13.5 cents/gal, up 6.5 cents from the Friday assessment. The last time LSR was assessed that high came in early February 2017.

High-octane gasoline blendstock reformate was heard traded at pipeline 87-unleaded gasoline plus 55 cents/gal, up 10 cents from the Friday assessment. Raffinate traded 13 cents/gal under the basis, up 7 cents from the assessment; alkylate traded at 27.5 cents over the basis, up 3.5 cents. Draft issues did not appear to have affected LPG carriers in the Houston Ship Channel. Three vessels were docked at Targa’s Galena Park, four at Enterprise Houston and two at Enterprise Morgan’s Point Friday afternoon, according to cFlow, Platts’ trade-flow software.

There were no vessels at Energy Transfer’s Nederland terminal, although the Sea Bird was waiting to enter Sabine Lake. Two vessels were at Phillips 66’s Freeport terminal, while two were queued nearby.

“We are not experiencing any draft issues at Nederland and the terminal is open for business,” Energy Transfer spokesman Jeff Shields said in a statement.

Source: Platts

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