Naphtha price in Asia reached a fresh 4-1/2 month high on Thursday at US$1000/ton on the back of strong Brent crude while the intermonth timespread at US$23.50, was at its highest since March 12 2012 amid tight supplies, as per Reuters. The supply tightness may continue at least until March due to India's low export levels and the exceptionally strong demand for the light fuel from the petrochemical sector. The intermonth timespread refers to the difference between the H1-March and H1-April Asian naphtha prices.
Saudi Aramco has sold a total of about 700,000 tons of naphtha for February loading from different ports, more than its usual monthly volumes. The higher exports were not additional cargoes but were intended to compensate for the lost volumes following the shutdown of its PetroRabigh plant in late December. "Aramco was holding back some of the barrels due to uncertainties as to when the plant would resume operations," a trader said.
Venezuela has halted a naphtha unit at its 310,000 bpd Cardon oil refinery for two weeks to carry out minor maintenance. Any impact on the European naphtha market can affect Asia, which is structurally short of the light fuel and relies on the West to plug its supply gap. Earlier, a power failure and a workers' strike halted operations at Libya's main 220,000 bpd Ras Lanuf plant.