July 31st, 2012

Gasoline futures declined as Sunoco Inc. (SUN) may start a fluid catalytic cracker today at the largest East Coast refinery and as Enbridge Inc. (ENB) may reopen an oil pipeline tomorrow that serves the Chicago area.

Unleaded gas futures fell as Sunoco plans to start the catalytic cracker today after shutting it July 23 for unplanned work, a person with knowledge of the situation said. Repairs on Enbridge’s 317,000-barrel-a-day pipeline may be completed today.

“Restarting some units is giving prices a little bit of a break,” said Phil Flynn, senior market analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago. “People were panic buying, particularly in the Chicago cash market. The pipeline coming back online should put some downward pressure on price.”

Gasoline futures for August delivery fell 2.17 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $2.9151 a gallon at 9:45 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Futures are up 6.9 percent this month.

The more actively traded September contract fell 1.88 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $2.7996 a gallon. August gasoline and heating oil contracts will expire at the close of floor trading today.

Heating oil futures for August delivery declined 1.31 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $2.866 a gallon, headed for a monthly gain of 6.3 percent. The September contract fell 1.46 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $2.8668 a gallon.

Regular gasoline at the pump, averaged nationwide, rose 1.4 cents to $3.50 a gallon, AAA said today on its website. That’s the highest price since June 17. Prices have fallen 11 percent from a 2012 high of $3.936 on April 4, according to AAA, the nation’s largest motoring organization.

- Barbara J Powell in Dallas at Bloomberg.