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Bloomberg: Shell Seeks Gasoline in Singapore as Sydney Stations Run Short

By Sophie Tan and Christian Schmollinger

Jan. 25 (Bloomberg) — Royal Dutch Shell Plc sought to buy cargoes of premium gasoline in Singapore after a refinery fault in Australia led to fuel shortages in Sydney.

Shell bid to buy 97-RON gasoline at $104.35 a barrel for early February loading from Singapore, $1.95 more than the next highest offer by Vitol Group, said three traders who witnessed the bids. No transactions were done because there were no offers through the trading system run by oil-pricing service Platts.

Shell closed its catalytic cracking unit at its 86,000 barrels-a-day Clyde refinery, near Sydney, for several months after “erratic operating behavior,” spokesman Peter Scott said by phone from Melbourne today. Clyde’s hydro-desulfurization unit, which had also been shut, restarted, he said.

The cracker is “going to be down for quite a while,” Scott said. “Essentially, when you plan this sort of maintenance it can be down for several months and that is basically what it’s going to be down for.”

Australia typically imports 91-, 95- and 98-RON gasoline, the traders said. RON, or research octane number, is a measure of gasoline quality; the higher the number, the better the quality. Australia and New Zealand bought about 300,000 metric tons for January shipment from Singapore, one of the traders said.

“We can’t comment on operational matters,” Oh Yam Chew, Singapore-based media relations manager at Shell Eastern Petroleum Pte, said by phone today in response to questions about Shell’s gasoline bids.

A fluid catalytic cracker generally accounts for more than a third of the gasoline that flows from a refinery, by converting gasoil into better products.

Geelong Shutdown

Shell’s Scott declined to comment on reports of a planned shutdown for maintenance at its 125,000 barrel-a-day Geelong refinery near Melbourne. Reuters reported that Shell would be partially closing the plant for eight weeks starting Feb. 1, citing two unidentified people.

The company is importing more premium-grade gasoline as about 100 service stations are without the fuel, Scott said. The stations have regular gasoline and diesel.

To contact the reporter on this story: Christian Schmollinger in Singapore at [email protected] .

Last Updated: January 25, 2008 06:35 EST

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