Asia naphtha prices and cracks continue to fall as demand slows down

Naphtha prices in Asia fell along with naphtha cracks that dipped for the fifth consecutive session to their lowest in about one-and-a-half week. Weaker demand from Northeast Asia and an unusual offer from Kuwait are the responsible factors. Kuwait Petroleum Corp (KPC), which has not been actively offering full-range naphtha on a spot basis after its new aromatics plant was commissioned late last year, is looking to sell 50,000 tons of the petrochemical feedstock for mid-February lifting. The offer was made after it shut its aromatics plant for a four-day repair from Feb. 9-12. Spot purchases for March cargoes from South Korea, Japan and Taiwan barely touched 800,000 tons versus more than 1.1 mln tons bought for February arrival. Demand will dip further as Taiwan's Formosa Petrochemical will omit buying spot naphtha for March arrival. The Taiwanese major had deferred receiving 150,000 tons of spot naphtha to March from February due to sufficient stocks as it pruned run rates at its 2.93 mln tpa cracking complex to 100% from 103%. South Korea's Honam bought a parcel for H2-March arrival at a premium of around US$9.50/ton to Japan spot quotes on C&F basis from Cargill, after YNCC picked up two parcels at similar price levels.
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