Naphtha markets in Asia will continue to be under pressure and prices will see a southward movement as heavy volumes of naphtha exports from Indian refiners will be maintained at a minimum of 900,000 tons in November.
Asian naphtha markets are faced with this situation for the first time, as typically, naphtha exports from India drop post-monsoon, as a result of dipping hydropower output and as naphtha-fed power stations take up the slack. However, this is the first time that power producers have shifted to cheaper natural gas, affecting naphtha requirements in the country. Also, the export markets remain attractive when compared to the domestic market where retail prices are an issue. Imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) are also showing no signs of decline amid healthy demand and despite higher prices compared with last year, keeping pressure on local refiners to export their naphtha.
November and December naphtha exports from Oil and Natural Gas Corp may decline as the company plans to shut down a 21,000 bpd hydrocracker at its subsidiary Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd for a month from mid-November. But the cut will be offset by additional naphtha exports from Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd as the refiner plans to shut its catalytic reformer in its 240,000 bpd Mumbai refinery for 25 days from mid-November. Other state-run refiners Indian Oil Corp. and Hindustan Petroleum Corp. Ltd are likely to keep their November export volume at the same level from this month, with no maintenance planned in November.