JAPAN CRISIS: Refiners seek oil product imports, but volumes not firm
Singapore (Platts)--14Mar2011/621 am EDT/1021 GMT
Japanese refiners are tentatively seeking imports of gasoline, kerosene,
diesel and fuel oil, in the wake of the devastating earthquake last Friday,
industry sources said Monday.
The volumes sought after, however, were not fully finalized as of now, as
refiners are still in the process of assessing their shortfalls, Tokyo-based
Refiners such as Cosmo Oil and JX Nippon Oil and Energy -- which have
refinery outages due to the earthquake -- were heard inquiring for imports of
finished-grade oil products for prompt March and April delivery.
But both have yet to make any purchases, given that they are still in the
process of evaluating the extent of the shortfall of their supply to the
Cosmo for one, is understood to be still in talks with its domestic
customers, while JX is re-planning its refinery operations.
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Cosmo's 220,000 b/d Chiba refinery and JX's 145,000 b/d Sendai, 270,000
b/d Negishi and 252,500 b/d Kashima plants are all shut due to the earthquake.
TonenGeneral -- under US oil major ExxonMobil -- however, is understood
to be covering its import needs from ExxonMobil's system, after shutting its
335,000 b/d Kawasaki refinery.
Apart from refiners that were directly hit by the earthquake, some other
Japanese refiners were also heard making import inquiries for transport fuels
and fuel oil for power generation, given that 27% of the country's total
refining capacity of 4.52 million b/d is now shut.
Meanwhile, JX continued its force majeure on waterborne and truck
shipments of gasoline and middle distillates Monday from most parts in eastern
Japan to the north, marking it the third day of the force majeure in the wake
of the massive earthquake, Platts reported earlier.
Prompt supply of finished grade gasoline and gasoil, meeting Japan's
stringent specifications can only come from South Korean refiners and blending
tanks in Singapore.
At least one South Korean refiner is understood to be looking at
increasing its oil product exports to Japan, possibly through "re-arranging"
some of its export cargoes, given that the majority of its barrels for April
have already been committed through term and spot contracts.
Another problem potential Japanese importers face, is berthing and
discharge of oil products at the ports, and availability of short-range
vessels in the Northeast Asian region.
In January, Japan produced 4,901,525 kl of gasoline, or 24.9% of the
product yield, recent data from government agency METI showed.
Kerosene output in January was at 2,807,951 kl, or 14.3% of products
yield, while gasoil production, at 3,656,856 kl, was 18.6% of the yield.
Total fuel oil output, at 3,765,603 kl, accounted for 18.1% of the yield
and jet fuel, at 980,445 kl, was nearly 5%.
--Irene Tang, email@example.com