ARA independent product stocks rise

Oil product stocks held in independent storage tanks in the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp (ARA) trading hub rose marginally during the past week, prompted by gains in gasoil and fuel oil inventories.

Fuel oil stocks climbed this week on week because of higher imports. The ARA region received fuel oil from Finland, France, Latvia, Poland, Russia, the US and the UK. One tanker left Rotterdam for west Africa with a fuel oil cargo to supply the local bunkering market. Falling freight rates on the Europe to Singapore route boosted demand for very large crude carrier (VLCC) cargoes.

Diesel stocks also rose during the past week. The economics for importing diesel form the Middle East to Europe firmed last week, stimulating flows from the east. Meanwhile, cold weather in the US bolstered demand for diesel, making less material available to be shipped to Europe. It also pushed prices higher, denting the economics for exporting the product.

Gasoline stocks fell during the past week. The northwest European and Mediterranean markets remain well-supplied with gasoline. US gasoline stocks have been rising, dampening demand for European products. The latest report from the EIA showed that stocks on the Atlantic coast — crucial for arbitrage economics between the US and Europe — hit the highest level since February 2017 during the week to 1 February. Likewise, the outlook for exports to the Middle East is bleak, owing to the restart of the 127,000 b/d residual fluid catalytic cracker at the UAE’s Ruwais-2 refinery following a two-year shutdown.

The European naphtha market has also been oversupplied as demand for the product from gasoline blenders has been at a low level because of weak margins. Demand for naphtha from the petrochemicals sector has also been soft as rival feedstock propane has been more competitive. But stocks fell marginally as some product was exported to South Korea.

And jet fuel stocks fell slightly from the prior week as the ARA region exported product to the UK and Ireland, while some jet fuel was imported from India. The tanker N Mars arrived into Rotterdam on 1 February with 60,000t of jet fuel from India.

Reporter: Sergei Balashov