FocusAsia naphtha to draw support from tight supply, firm demand

15 October 2012 06:08  [Source: ICIS news]

By Felicia Loo

chemical tankerSINGAPORE (ICIS)--Asia’s naphtha prices are expected to be underpinned by tightening supply in the region as a closed arbitrage window prevented fresh bookings of European shipments, traders said on Monday.

At noon, open-spec naphtha was at $975.50-978.50/tonne (€751.14-753.45/tonne) CFR (cost and freight) Japan, down by $8-9/tonne from Friday’s close because of weaker crude, according to ICIS.

But in the week ended 12 October, prices increased by $22.50/tonne from the previous week, according to ICIS data.

“The market will be tighter because of less [naphtha] availability from Europe,” said a trader.

The arbitrage economics in moving European naphtha supply to Asia is not workable because the east-west spread of $6/tonne is deemed too weak. While dependent on factors such as freight rates, a spread of $15-20/tonne is usually deemed necessary for an arbitrage window to open to Asia.

The intermonth spread between the naphtha contracts for the second half of November and the second half of December was assessed at a backwardation of $14.00/tonne in the week ended 12 October, compared with a backwardation of $13.00/tonne from the previous week.

The naphtha crack spread versus November Brent crude futures widened to $123.45/tonne in the week ended 12 October, from $121.88/tonne in the previous week.

European naphtha prices are firm because of ongoing refinery turnarounds and some naphtha supply is being diverted for blending, so that European gasoline could meet the rising motor fuel demand from West Africa, traders said.

In response to tight European supply, the premiums that were fetched in the South Korean spot naphtha purchases rose in the week ended 12 October, they added.

South Korea’s Honam Petrochemical bought three open-spec naphtha cargoes totalling 75,000 tonnes in the spot market for delivery to Daesan in the second half of November. The deal for the cargoes was done at a premium of $15.00/tonne to Japan quotes.

Honam previously bought 50,000 tonnes of spot naphtha supply for first-half November delivery to Daesan at a premium of $10.50/tonne to Japan quotes CFR.

Another South Korean chemical producer LG Chem bought three spot cargoes of naphtha totalling 75,000 tonnes for delivery in November.

Two of the cargoes were purchased at a premium of $11.00-12.00/tonne to Japan quotes CFR for delivery in the first half of November. The deal for the remaining cargo was done at a premium of $13.00/tonne to Japan quotes CFR for delivery in the second half of November.

India’s Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd (MRPL) has sold by tender a 35,000-tonne cargo of naphtha for loading in mid-November at a higher premium, reflecting tight supply and firm demand, traders said.

The deal for the cargo, which was awarded to Chinese trader Unipec, was done at a premium of $39.00/tonne to Middle East quotes FOB (free on board) for loading from New Mangalore on the West Coast of India on 13-15 November, they said.

In its previous tender, MRPL sold a similar-sized cargo of naphtha for loading from New Mangalore on 7-9 November to Singapore-based company Petro-Diamond at a premium of $35.00/tonne to Middle East quotes FOB.

Term naphtha premiums also increased given a strong market outlook, traders said.

Bahrain Petroleum Co (Bapco) agreed to sell term naphtha supply for January to December 2013. The term deal for the naphtha supply of the B210 grade was done at a premium of $28/tonne to Middle East quotes FOB. Bapco previously sold term naphtha supply at a premium of $17.00/tonne to Middle East quotes FOB for the period between January and December 2012.

Kuwait Petroleum Corp (KPC), on the other hand, agreed to sell term full-range naphtha supplies at a premium of $27.00/tonne to Middle East quotes FOB for the period of December 2012-November 2013.

For its term supply for December 2011-November 2012, KPC sold term full-range naphtha at a premium of $18.50/tonne to Middle East quotes FOB and term light naphtha at a premium of $20.00/tonne to Middle East quotes FOB.

($1 = €0.77)

Read John Richardson and Malini Hariharan’s blog – Asian Chemical Connections
Request a free ICIS sample report for the latest prices and development in the Asian petrochemical markets


By: Felicia Loo



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