Gasoline prompt cracks in northwest Europe slipped on Monday but remained at eight-month-highs supported by strong demand from the United States, where inventories are low and refinery maintenance has curbed supply.
Stocks on the U.S. East Coast, a major export destination for European gasoline, fell more than expected last week while demand in West Africa and the Mediterranean is strong.
Maintenance at Canadian refineries that normally supply the U.S. East Coast also helped tighten the market as summer, the peak season for gasoline demand in the United States, looms.
"The Irving refinery restart has been supposedly delayed, and the Montreal and Quebec refineries are both down for work so the East Coast is really tight," an industry source said.
At least six tankers were reported fixed from northwest Europe to the United States on Friday alone, according Reuters shipping data. Another tanker was booked by Valero for Montreal and BP booked a tanker from Gibraltar for the United States.
One cargo was booked from northwest Europe to West Africa, the data showed.
"There is still maintenance and recent demand from the United States, Africa, the Middle East and Asia," said one trader. "In theory, it could last all summer as long as refineries don't ramp up runs and gasoline percentage."
The naphtha market was quiet, though there was some demand from gasoline blenders who use light naphtha as a component, one trader said.
Four barges of benchmark Eurobob traded in the Platts price assessment window at $1,014-$1,016 a tonne fob ARA, down from $1,018 a tonne on Friday. Gunvor sold three barges to Vitol an one to Trafigura.
Outside the window, around eight barges of gasoline traded at $1,008-$1,017 a tonne fob ARA, compared to $1,007-$1,018 a tonne on Friday. Gunvor and Total sold. Vitol, Argos, Shell and Trafigura bought.
By the market close, the May swap was trading at around $1,015 a tonne, up from $1,014 a tonne on Friday.
Three barges of premium unleaded gasoline traded at $1,021-$1,024 a tonne fob ARA, down from $1,026 a tonne on Friday. Total bought all the barges from Trafigura and Litasco.
By 1542 GMT, Eurobob's crack to dated Brent was at around $12.87 a barrel, down from $13.384 on Friday.
Brent crude oil futures were up 71 cents at $108.04 a barrel at 1643 GMT.
U.S. RBOB gasoline futures in New York were up 0.35 percent at $3.0250 a gallon, and the prompt crack was up at $23.19 a barrel.
No barges of naphtha traded in the window on Monday.
(Reporting by Lin Noueihed, editing by William Hardy)