The naphtha arbitrage from Europe to Asia, shut in February due to cracker maintenance, has reopened. These shipments to Asia would be the first in over a month since heavy cracker maintenance in Japan has curbed demand for western feedstock. Two trading companies are combing for supplies to replenish dwindling stocks, making provisional bookings for around 80,000 tons of naphtha for March loading. Vitol and Trafigura are among those planning to ship naphtha east from the Mediterranean. Trafigura has won a tender for 30,000 tons of naphtha from the 160,000 bpd Milazzo refinery in Sicily, owned by Kuwait Petroleum Corp and Italy's Eni.
Reopening of the arbitrage boosted European naphtha prices as crack spread, for the April swap, turned positive and rose to 20 cents a barrel from minus 60 on Friday, according to Reuters. However, for the moment, the shipping route to Asia from northwest Europe is closed because of higher freight costs.