ARA Product Stocks Rise (Week 15 – 2021)

April 15, 2021 — Independently-held inventories of oil products in the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp (ARA) trading and storage hub have risen after reaching four-month lows the previous week.

Total stocks rose over the past week, according to consultancy Insights Global. Inventories of fuel oil, gasoline and naphtha all rose, while jet and gasoil both fell to multi-month lows.

Gasoil inventories fell to their lowest since April 2020, dropping by on the week. Tankers departed the ARA area for France, the Mediterranean and the UK amid low local demand, while relatively little arrived from key supply area Russia over the week. The fall in stocks came despite a week on week fall in barge flows to destinations inland.

Jet stocks also fell, reaching their lowest since late August. Demand around the ARA area and its surroundings were low as a result of restrictions on commercial aviation. But tankers continued to depart for the UK, where demand is firmer. Large cargoes of both jet and diesel are on their way from east of Suez, which is likely to increase inventories in the coming weeks.

Stocks of all other surveyed products rose. Gasoline and component cargoes arrived in the ARA area from Denmark, Ireland, Norway, Sweden and the UK during the week to yesterday, supporting inventories. But demand for blending components from gasoline producers appeared firmer, and the volume of gasoline moving around the ARA area rose on the week. Outflows of finished-grade gasoline to the US also rose on the week, and tankers departed for Argentina, Canada and the Caribbean as well.

Naphtha stocks rose, after reaching 14-month lows the previous week. Tankers arrived from France, Poland, Portugal and Russia, attracted by keen interest from gasoline blenders. The volume of naphtha heading inland on barges fell, as lighter rival products began to displace naphtha as a petrochemical feedstock at some sites inland. Naphtha typically becomes less attractive as a petrochemical feedstock during the summer, as prices of rival feedstocks fall during warmer months. Both propane and butane are used as domestic heating fuel in winter, bolstering demand and prices during cooler weather.

Fuel oil stocks rose, supported by the arrival of cargoes from the Caribbean, Estonia, Poland and the UK. A single Suezmax tanker departed for South Africa. BP has also chartered a tanker to carry fuel oil to South Africa in the coming weeks. The company operates the country’s Durban refinery as part of a joint-venture with Shell. The Durban refinery suffered an unplanned shutdown earlier this month and is expected to be taken offline entirely for scheduled maintenance for six weeks starting on 1 May.

Reporter: Thomas Warner