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SINGAPORE: Asia’s gasoline crack surged to a more than four-month high on Friday, buoyed by expectations for tighter supplies in the near term as refiners in north Asia head into the spring turnaround season.

The gasoline crack climbed on Friday to $5.30 per barrel, a level not seen since Oct. 1. The crack was at $4.71 per barrel a day earlier. The gasoline refining margin has soared 77.3% this week.

A preference towards opting for personal vehicles in order to avoid public transportation during the pandemic is supporting gasoline demand in some markets, market watchers said. Asia’s naphtha crack rose to $108.75 per tonne on Friday, up from $97.28 per tonne a day earlier.

Gasoline stocks held independently in the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp (ARA) refining and storage hub rose 0.6% to 1.3 million tonnes in the week to Feb. 18, data from Dutch consultancy Insights Global showed. The data showed ARA gasoil inventories dropped 3.8% to 2.6 million tonnes.

US gasoline stocks rose by 672,000 barrels in the week to Feb. 12, the Energy Information Administration said on Thursday, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 1.4 million-barrel rise. South Korea’s GS Caltex was offering two cargoes of 35,000-tonne gasoline for March loading, a broker source said.

South Korea’s Lotte Chemical was looking for 25,000 tonnes of light naphtha for delivery in the first half of April. Oil prices slid more than 1% on Friday, adding to overnight declines, on worries that refineries will take time to resume operations after the big freeze in the US South, creating a gap in demand, while OPEC+ supplies were expected to rise.