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Abstract

Before and during the United States' summer driving season, concern over the country's gasoline supply can potentially influence the direction of the petroleum market. There are three causes of concern: a persistent lack of gasoline-producing capacity; a patchwork of as many as 18 different kinds of gasoline specifications; and the introduction of stringent new specifications for reformulated gasoline. However, gasoline stocks should be able to meet the needs of this year's driving season, at a time of ample crude oil availability, with strong imports. But, unplanned outages in the US logistics system and refining centres, or major disruptions in external gasoline supplies, could trigger price spikes that would, in turn, lead to frequently stronger crude oil prices, especially with the observed robust oil demand growth in China.