ARA independent product stocks increase

London, 27 September (Argus) — Oil product stocks held in independent storage within the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp (ARA) trading hub rose by 6.3pc from a week earlier because of large gains in fuel oil and gasoline inventories.

Fuel oil stocks rose by a fifth from a week earlier as product was put into storage to be loaded on two Singapore-bound VLCCs. One of these tankers — the Ridgebury Artois — has likely started loading fuel oil and could shortly leave for Singapore. No VLCCs left during the past week, while the Suezmax Sabine departed for Asia-Pacific with 130,000t of fuel oil. Bookings on the route to Singapore have picked up pace this week as export economics improved following a decline in Singapore’s inventories to multi-week lows. The ARA region imported fuel oil from the Black Sea, the Baltic Sea and Spain.

Gasoline stocks also rose, climbing by 10pc amid limited export options. US demand for gasoline has been weak since the conclusion of the summer driving season. This was reflected in last week’s increase in stocks, which came despite lower domestic production. During the week to 21 September, implied demand dropped to a 17 week low, and was also down year on year, according to EIA data. Exports to the Middle East are also likely to slow in the coming week as regional refineries come back from unplanned shutdowns. The ARA region exported gasoline to the Mideast Gulf and west Africa during the past week.

Lack of export options and comparatively low demand also led to an increase in naphtha stocks, which climbed 6pc from a week earlier. The European naphtha market is well-supplied, while demand from gasoline blenders is low. And arbitrage economics to Asia-Pacific are unworkable, largely because of ethylene cracker maintenance in that region. No naphtha was exported from the ARA region this week, while product arrived from Algeria, France, Spain and the UK.

And diesel inventories rose by less than 1pc this week. US diesel production also has fallen, which is likely to lead to a decline in exports to Europe in the coming weeks. In Europe, water levels on the Rhine remain low, keeping barge rates high and limiting inland shipments. The economics for importing diesel into Europe remain weak. But this could change if Rhine river water levels rise, allowing German demand to access ARA gasoil stocks, reducing supplies and pushing prices higher.

Jet fuel stocks bucked the trend, dropping by 14,000t, or 2pc because of comparatively high export volumes. The ARA region shipped the product to Denmark and the UK, while importing some jet fuel from the Mediterranean.