Premium unleaded gasoline and naphtha prices rose in northwest Europe on Wednesday on signs of the market tightening after news that Hovensa will close its 350,000 bpd refinery in the U.S. Virgin Islands by mid-February, as per Reuters. The market for naphtha is already tight at the prompt end as Libya's Ras Lanuf refinery is still not operational, whilst gasoline has been strengthening due to continued uncertainty about the future of Petroplus's refineries. The Hovensa refinery has been closed due to poor margins. This closure is likely to create more opportunities for European gasoline to go West. Nigerian market seemed to be returning
to normal following a standstill for the past two weeks. Almost one million tons of gasoline is waiting offshore in Nigeria.
Naphtha supplies remain tight in the prompt market after bad weather closed some Mediterranean ports last week, resulting in delays to loading. This backlog awaits to be cleared.
Demand for naphtha from petrochemical companies in Europe remains weak, with the cheaper propane still preferred as a feedstock.