ARA Oil Product Stocks Fall to Their Lowest in a Year

28 November, 2019 (Argus) — The total volume of oil products held independently in the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp (ARA) hub in the week to yesterday to reach the lowest level since November last year, according to the latest data from consultancy Insights Global.

Inventory levels in ARA typically reach their lowest during late autumn and winter owing to end-of-year destocking and anticipated lower winter demand, which impacts production during the third quarter.

Stocks of all surveyed products fell during the week to 27 November. Gasoil stocks dropped the most in outright terms, amid low imports and a week-on-week rise in barge flows from ARA to the area around Shell’s Godorf refinery. Gasoil supply in the area has been squeezed in recent weeks because of problems restarting units at Godorf following maintenance. But demand from other inland destinations was weak, with low Rhine water levels prompting loading restrictions for barges. A tanker carrying gasoil arrived in ARA from Saudi Arabia over the past week, while cargoes left for France, Germany and the UK.

Naphtha inventories fell by the most in percentage terms, dropping on the week. Steep backwardation in the northwest European market — where prompt prices are higher than forward values — has deterred buyers throughout November, prompting stock draws and pushing inventories to two-month lows. Naphtha cargoes arrived in ARA from France, Norway and Portugal in the week and none arrived.

Gasoline inventories fell on the week to reach their lowest level since November 2016, despite a drop in shipments to the US and west Africa. Gasoline cargoes departed ARA for both regions but the total volume was lower than the previous week. Gasoline tankers also left for Mexico and the Mediterranean. Inflows were also lower on the week, weighed down by a seasonal fall in gasoline demand. Barge congestion prompted some gasoline and gasoline component loading delays around Amsterdam and Antwerp.

Fuel oil stocks declined on the week — cargoes arrived from Poland, Russia and Sweden but the incoming volume was the lowest in several weeks. An Aframax tanker carrying fuel oil departed for Jeddah in Saudi Arabia and tankers also departed for west Africa.

Jet fuel stocks in ARA fell. Demand was low, in line with seasonal expectations. Ample supply, particularly in the Mediterranean, continued to weigh on European jet fuel premiums to the underlying gasoil contract. No tankers arrived or departed ARA carrying jet fuel cargoes.

Reporter: Thomas Warner