Independent ARA product stocks hit three-year lows (week 45 – 2021)
Independently-held oil products stocks in the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp (ARA) hub fell to their lowest since November 2018 during the week to 10 November, amid firm demand and ongoing logistical problems on northwest European waterways.
Data from consultancy Insights Global show overall inventories fell on the week, with stocks of all surveyed products except fuel oil lower. Barge freight costs in the ARA area and along the river Rhine continued to rise during the week, owing to a lack of available barges.
Low water on the river Rhine and firm demand for refined products have combined to take any excess barge capacity off the market since September 2021, adding additional cost to any refining operations that require moving anything on or off site on barges.
Demand for road fuels is firm around the region. Gasoline stocks fell. Barge congestion and loading delays remained a factor around northwest Europe, and ate into gasoline blending margins. Tankers arrived from Estonia, Italy, Russia, Turkey and the UK, and departed for the Mideast Gulf, Canada, east Africa, the US and west Africa. Demand from the US remained robust and blending activity in the ARA appeared higher on the week.
Gasoil inventories fell, dropping on the week. Flows up the Rhine from the ARA area fell further, having reached two-month lows the previous week. Tankers departed the ARA area for India, Russia and the US and arrived from France, Germany and the UK. Steep backwardation in the Ice gasoil market created little incentive to maintain inventories, prompting some Baltic cargoes to head west across the Atlantic rather than discharging in the ARA area. Inflows to the ARA area from Asia are low for the same reason.
Naphtha stocks fell to their lowest since February 2020. Barge flows of naphtha to petrochemical facilities around northwest Europe held steady on the week. Tankers arrived from Algeria, Norway, Portugal, Russia and the US, while none departed.
Jet fuel stocks fell to fresh 18-month lows, with consumption supported by the reopening of some long-haul flight routes. Tankers arrived from Malaysia and Portugal, and departed for the UK and Ireland.
Fuel oil stocks rose after reaching their lowest since March 2020 the previous week. Inventories may be rising ahead of the loading of the VLCC Lita during the coming week for delivery to Asia.
Cargoes departed for the Mediterranean, Port Said, South Africa and west Africa, and arrived from Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, Russia and Sweden.
Reporter: Thomas Warner