Asian naphtha price eased to a three-session low of US$1052 on Friday after holding at a 10-month high, mirroring the fall in Brent crude. Naphtha margin in Asia, at US$169.1/ton has surged 26% since the start of this year as tight supplies persisted. Traders said the tightness could stay for at least another month as India will keep its export levels low. Uncertainty also surrounded how much Europe could export to the East as the West is also facing heavy refinery maintenance season.
The persisting supply crunch continued to squeeze buyers. LG Chem paid around US$37.50/ton premium to Japan quotes on a cost-and-freight (C&F) basis for a 25,000 ton cargo for end March to early April delivery to Yeosu. It paid about US$39/ton premium for a cargo to be delivered in H1-April to Daesan, the highest premiums paid in South Korea in many years, surpassing the US$36.50/ton premium Lotte Chemical paid the previous day.
Indian Oil Corp (IOC) overtook MRPL by setting a new naphtha sales premium record in India at nearly US$69/ton to its own formula on a free-on-board (FOB) basis after having sold a March cargo to Socar. The 35,000-40,000 ton cargo is scheduled for March 5-7 loading from Dahej. BPCL sold a 35,000 ton cargo for March 1-4 loading from Kochi port to Marubeni at a premium of about US$60/ton to Middle East quotes, FOB, although some traders said the price could be higher towards US$62. BPCL has also sold a 35,000 ton cargo for March 19-21 loading from Mumbai to Itochu at a premium of about US$65/ton to Middle East quotes on a FOB basis, the highest premium BPCL had fetched for its cargoes so far. MRPL sold 35,000 tons for March 22-24 loading from New Mangalore to Daewoo International at a premium of about US$66/ton to Middle East quotes on a FOB basis. HMEL sold 25,000 tons of naphtha for March 9-10 loading from Mumbai but the premiums were not immediately clear.