SINGAPORE: Asia’s gasoline crack edged higher on Monday on weaker feedstock crude prices, but traders were concerned near-term demand would be weak as several countries in the region have extended mobility restrictions to rein in the infectious Delta variant of the coronavirus.
Refining profit margins, also known as cracks, for gasoline rose to $8.94 per barrel on Monday, compared with $8.77 per barrel on Friday.
Key gasoline importer Indonesia’s inflows of the transportation fuel are expected to drop for a third consecutive month in July, with volumes around 500,000-550,000 tonnes so far, Refinitiv Oil Research assessments showed.
The country’s gasoline imports are expected to decline even further in August, according to the Refinitiv assessments.
The regional gasoline market, however, is expected to get some support from lower Chinese exports in the second half of the year, market watchers said.
Asia’s naphtha crack slipped to $138.05 per tonne on Monday, dipping from a more than five-year high of $138.53 a tonne touched on Friday.
“Demand for naphtha into petchems in Asia will remain supported through the end of 2021,” said April Tan, associate director of oil markets and downstream at IHS Markit.
Beijing’s crackdown on the misuse of import quotas combined with the impact of high crude prices could see China’s growth in oil imports sink to the lowest in two decades in 2021, despite an expected rise in refining rates in the second half.
Shipments into the world’s top crude importer and No. 2 refiner could be steady, or increase by up to 2% to just over 11 million barrels per day (bpd) this year, consultancies Energy Aspects, Rystad Energy and Independent Commodity Intelligence Services (ICIS) found.
That compares to an average annual import growth rate of 9.7% since 2015, and would be the slowest growth since 2001, China customs data showed.
Indian refiners’ crude throughput in June was little changed from the previous month when it fell to multi-month lows as a severe second wave of coronavirus restrained demand, forcing refiners to reduce runs.
The United States is considering cracking down on Iranian oil sales to China as it braces for the possibility that Tehran may not return to nuclear talks or may adopt a harder line whenever it does, a US official said.