Naphtha exports from India rise, unlikely to dampen markets due to lower arbitrage cargoes

Naphtha exports from India for March are expected see a 15% hike from February levels to 920,000 tons, possibly due to larger volumes from Indian Oil Corp and Reliance. As per Reuters, IOC has sold at least 6 medium-range naphtha cargoes lifting in March from Kandla and Dahej vs 4 cargoes from the same ports for February loading. Reliance sold more for March, with sales volumes totalling 220,000 tons vs 165,000 tons for February. This rise in exports has been witnessed despite lack of spot cargoes from Hazira port for the second consecutive month due to berth maintenance. However, these raised levels of exports from India are unlikely to impact market sentiments due to lower arbitrage cargoes from Europe to Asia. However, refinery maintenance in the Gulf is likely to impact exports to Asia. Last week, USA unexpectedly locked in at least 300,000 tons of naphtha for late February to early March loading from Europe. This has caused Asian market to strengthen as these Western barrels were initially anticipated to sail East. Heavy cracker maintenance in Asia in Q2-11 is expected to wipe away a chunk of naphtha demand in Asia. Many traders were therefore expecting a weak market, with surplus cargoes, but after USA drew on European cargoes, supplies in Asia are likely be balanced to slightly short.
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