Naphtha leads fall in ARA independent product stocks

Oil product stocks held in independent storage tanks in the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp (ARA) trading hub fell in the week to 11 April, with gasoline the only product to record a stockbuild.

Naphtha stocks saw the largest decline in percentage terms, with independent inventories reaching 11-week lows, data from consultancy PJK show. Vessels carrying naphtha offloaded in the ARA region from Algeria and other northern and eastern European ports, and cargo was exported to Asia-Pacific. Inland demand rose, as German firm BASF’s petrochemical facility in Ludwigshafen drew barges.

Strong blending demand for naphtha, coupled with firm Eurobob oxy gasoline barge liquidity on fob ARA barges, may have contributed to a regional gasoline stockbuild ahead of loading dates. Eurobob oxy gasoline barges changed hands on 1-5 April for loading in the trading hub 2-8 days ahead, compared with the prior week period. This may have offset high export levels as arbitrage economics remain viable on gasoline routes to the US, Mexico and Mideast Gulf, where refinery maintenance is drawing additional cargoes. Exports to the US were lower than expected, but are likely to pick up as US gasoline inventories fell last week by their largest weekly volume in more than a year, according to the EIA.

A fall in scheduled exports of low-sulphur diesel from Russia’s Baltic port of Primorsk resulted in lower gasoil stocks held independently in the ARA region. Furthermore, mild weather supported diesel demand for driving inland, with buying interest rising from France and Switzerland.

No jet fuel vessels arrived in the ARA region from east of Suez or the US in the week to 11 April, while a cargo was exported to the UK. At least one vessel carrying jet fuel was scheduled to arrive in Amsterdam on 9 April but has not yet offloaded. And demand along the Rhine was strong ahead of the peak-summer flying season, with PJK recording the largest weekly outflow by barge since June.

But jet fuel stocks on a four-week rolling average basis remained at their highest since the end of November. And levels are expected to rise further. Jet fuel imports to northwest Europe from east of Suez and the US are set to reach this month — similar to March levels. Demand is expected to remain thin, with off-peak buying interest in April more than March levels. Demand in May is only expected to rise from April.

Fuel oil arrivals to the ARA region originated from France, Lithuania, Poland, Russia and the UK. Eastbound flows continue despite weaker economics, with the Koch-chartered Suezmax Nordic Mistral departing Rotterdam for Singapore. And exports to the Mideast Gulf continued for summer power generation.

Reporter: Rowena Caine