April 21, 2015
The Asia-Pacific and Middle East jet/kerosene market remained sluggish amid ample cargoes in the region, market sources said Tuesday.
High inventory levels in Europe kept arbitrage opportunities limited, while regional demand fell short of supply.
"This region still needs China to buy, or else we should continue to struggle," said a middle distillates trader based in Singapore. "China will also import less moving forward as they are optimizing more on local production," the source added.
China's domestic production of oil products largely rose in March compared with a year earlier, detailed data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed late last week.
Jet fuel/kerosene output jumped 27.9% from the same time last year to 3.115 million mt, while gasoil production rose 5.5% over the same period to 15.576 million mt.
Sinopec exported 292,300 mt of jet fuel from its 23.5 million mt/year (470,000 b/d) Maoming refinery in southern China's Guangdong province in the first quarter, up 45,600 mt or 18.5% year on year, the company said Monday.
The Q1 jet fuel exports represent a historical high, Sinopec said. The oversupply situation was unlikely to ease over the next two months, as North Asian refineries return from turnarounds, adding to the supply pool in Asia.
But sources said that increasing gasoline and diesel production from Chinese refineries will cut down on the number of jet cargoes in the market, providing some potential relief to region.
Other Asian refineries, however, favored jet production over its fellow middle distillate. The physical regrade -- the spread between FOB Singapore Jet/kerosene and FOB Singapore Gasoil -- stood in positive territory Monday at 28 cents/barrel, the first time since February 27 this year. The regrade slipped 10 cents Tuesday to 18 cents/b.
ARA barges weaker
A well offered Northwest European spot barge market shed $2.25/mt Tuesday to be assessed at an $18/mt premium to ICE gasoil.
Supply continued to outstrip demand, sources said, as high storage levels in tank and no lull in extra-regional supply continued to weigh on the market.
"With the current margins, it is not surprising [that the market is oversupplied]. What is more difficult is to gauge demand. That is hard to measure," a source said.
Despite generally bearish sentiment, bidding interest returned to the spot CIF NWE cargo market, with a Totsa bid into Le Havre seen during the Platts Market on Close assessment process.
NWE cargoes were assessed 50 cents higher at plus $11.25/mt.
The Mediterranean market was heard to be long, with recently added refining capacity and weak demand heard contributing to the build. Despite this, Med cargoes rose $2.25 to minus $7.25/mt.
In addition to a newly commissioned coker at Tupras's Izmit refinery -- which was expected to boost the facility's jet output by 25-30% -- a new 50,000 b/d hydrocracker at Lukoil's Neftochim Burgas refinery in Bulgaria was expected to come online in the near future.
The construction of the hydrogen unit and of all installations is complete, with some work remaining on the assembly as the unit is preparing for testing, the company said.
"All this stuff [new capacity] from east Med has to compete with MRs [tankers] coming from the east of Suez. Not a healthy matter," one trader said.
In shipping news, the 119,456 dwt SKS Donggang was seen steaming in the English Channel last Friday evening, expected for arrival at Shellhaven Wednesday.
The vessel departed South Korea March 1 laden with jet fuel, shipping sources said, and rounded the Cape of Good Hope on its lengthy journey to Europe.
The 112,723 dwt Clio -- seen offered by Vitol in the Platts MOC last week -- was tracked about to enter Rotterdam Tuesday evening after having left Ruwais March 27.
Gulf Coast trading thin
The Gulf Coast jet fuel market held steady for the third day in a row Tuesday as trading volumes in the Market on Close assessment process remained low compared to previous cycles.
Platts assessed the Gulf Coast jet fuel differential at NYMEX May ULSD minus 13.25 cents/gal, or an outright price of $1.7220/gal.
For the second day in a row, 200,000 barrels of jet fuel traded during the Platts MOC. Only 50,000 barrels total have traded over the previous two days of the cycle, bringing the total traded for this cycle to 450,000 barrels. This is compared to 1.2 million total barrels that traded during the 21st cycle. The current cycle schedules April 22.
Prompt cycle 22 is scheduled to last five trading days, which is typically the longest companies receive to schedule prompt barrels on the pipeline. Prompt cycles typically last three to five days.
New York Harbor jet fuel barges fell 25 points to NYMEX May ULSD minus 6.25 cents/gal, or $1.7920/gal on the outright.
On the West Coast, the Los Angeles jet fuel market strengthened 35 points to NYMEX May ULSD minus 3.90 cents/gal, for an outright of $1.8155/gal.
The BW Orinoco was seen heading towards Los Angeles from South Korea Tuesday and was estimated to arrive April 24, according to Platts cFlow ship-tracking software. According to sources, the Panamax is carrying jet fuel.
Imports into Los Angeles have dwindled in recent weeks as stocks have been well-supplied. The port brought in 84,000 b/d of jet fuel the week that ended April 10 after bringing in no imports the prior two weeks, according to data from the US Energy Information Administration.
Before this dip, the region had brought in six straight weeks of imports.