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Shell Said to Limit U.K. Gasoline Sales After Fault

By Nidaa Bakhsh

April 8 (Bloomberg) — Royal Dutch Shell Plc is limiting gasoline sales from the U.K.’s second-largest oil refinery at Stanlow in Cheshire because of a fault, a person familiar with the situation said.

The refinery outage threatens to reduce fuel supplies and drive up prices at a time when Total SA’s Lindsey and ConocoPhillips’s Humber plants in northern England are also undergoing seasonal maintenance.

Shell’s restrictions are expected to last about a week, the person said, declining to be identified because the information is confidential. Rainer Winzenried, Shell spokesman in The Hague, declined to comment, citing a policy of not discussing refinery operations.

Shell shut down a reformer unit, which makes gasoline blending components, about two weeks ago because of a leak, according to another person with knowledge of the situation. That unit is scheduled to resume operations as early as today, the person said. The reformer can process 59,000 barrels a day, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Gasoline’s premium to Brent oil, its raw material, in Europe narrowed to $4.17 a barrel from $4.28 yesterday, according to broker PVM Oil Associates Ltd. Stockpiles of the motor fuel in independent storage in Amsterdam-Rotterdam- Antwerp, the region’s oil-trading hub, gained 14 percent to 821,000 metric tons last week, according to Dutch consultant PJK International BV.

Stanlow’s crude processing capacity is 240,000 barrels a day, second only to Exxon Mobil Corp.’s Fawley plant on the south coast. Stanlow uses mainly North Sea crude and produces about 17 percent of the U.K.’s gasoline, according to Shell’sWeb site.

To contact the reporter on this story: Nidaa Bakhsh in London at[email protected]

Last Updated: April 8, 2009 07:42 EDT 

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