UpdateChina February naphtha imports seen to fall 16% from January

24 January 2011 08:52  [Source: ICIS news]

(adds details and current naphtha prices)

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--China is estimated to import 160,000 tonnes or 51,429 bbl/day of naphtha in February, down 16% from this month because of a demand slowdown in the petrochemical sector during the forthcoming Lunar New Year holidays, traders said on Monday.

For January, the world’s top energy user was estimated to be importing 190,000 tonnes or 55,161 bbls/day of naphtha, they added. The Lunar New Year will take place in early February.

But the volumes fell drastically from official customs data, which Reuters reported that China imported 406,738 tonnes of naphtha in December.

The December imports were unusually high as Chinese refineries pumped out diesel relentlessly at the expense of light distillates in which naphtha and gasoline belong to, to plug a domestic shortfall to meet peak power generation demand, traders said.

“The situation has improved a lot because of the huge (naphtha) imports in November and December,” said one trader from Beijing.

The February volumes comprised solely of term imports, with Fujia Dahua and Petrochemical seen buying 60,000 tonnes and Lidong Chemical taking in 100,000 tonnes, traders said.

“Supply is at a comfortable level. So no spot buying is needed for February,” said the trader.

As for the January batch, besides the regular term imports by Fujia Dahua and Lidong that totalled 160,000 tonnes, China also imported 30,000 tonnes of spot naphtha, traders said. The buyer was not known.

Asian naphtha prices were assessed as $879.00-879.25/tonne (€641.67-641.85/tonne) CFR (cost & freight) Japan in late trade on Monday, ICIS data showed.

($1 = €0.73)

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By: Felicia Loo

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