Decline expected in naphtha prices expected in Asia on arrival of cargoes from Europe

At least six tankers carrying naphtha have been booked to sail from Europe and the Mediterranean to Asia to take advantage of an arbitrage opportunity, as per Reuters. Many players view this opportunity as short lived. A window for further bookings remained open on Thursday as the east-west spread for naphtha continued to trade near multi-month highs, making the shipments still profitable for traders. Asian naphtha swaps for December have risen to a seven-month high of US$21.50/ton and January swaps peaked to US$16/ton. However, the West to East flow of naphtha in the coming weeks could soon push down prices and wipe out the opportunity to ship more excess barrels from Europe. Asian markets have tightened as outages by refineries in the Gulf and the restart of Formosa Petrochemical's cracker complex in Taiwan have contributed to an increasingly wide naphtha market premium versus the West. In Europe, slow industrial growth has helped dampen demand for naphtha, which also is struggling to compete against rival feedstock propane amid weak consumption by petrochemical end-users. Interestingly, China-Asia's top petrochemical importer, is facing a slowing export growth rate. November trade data due later this week expected to reveal the weakest growth in two years.
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