U.S. crude runs have marched above 17.2 million barrels per day as overall refinery maintenance is dwindling into the summer season. PADD 3 crude runs increased by 84,000 barrels per day (BBL/d), as a crude distillation unit (CDU) outage in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and a fluid catalytic cracking unit (FCCU) outage in Beaumont, Texas, were resolved. PADD 4 crude runs increased 10% on the week as the Rocky Mountains region has recovered from the multi-week planned outage at Phillips 66’s 66,000-BBL/d refinery in Billings, Montana. A quick glance at the PADD 4 crude runs chart shows that the region is now back to the top of its historical range, and not far from the all-time high of 684,000 BBL/d that was set in mid-April.

So where do we go from here? PADDs 2, 3 and 4 are floating at or just below the all-time highs. PADD 1 rates have been a bit disappointing, and could see another 100,000-BBL/d of upside. In our opinion, the real upside potential comes from out West. PBF’s 155,000-BBL/d Torrance refinery in California is expected to commence startup procedures today, but Tesoro’s 166,000-BBL/d Golden Eagle refinery in Martinez, California, will have upgrading units offline for the next five weeks. Successful restarts in PADD 5, and a lack of unplanned outages across the country, should allow for U.S. crude runs to move higher.

But how much higher? It’s tough to call a crude runs number above the all-time high of 17,510,000 BBL/d. That number was reached when IIR Research confirmed 431,000 BBL/d of offline CDU activity. The better number to target is the highest four-week moving average of 17,318,000 BBL/d from five weeks ago. This is more attainable, given the above-mentioned factors.

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