Naphtha price was at a 3-½ week low on Thursday, and although cracks surged, they remained far below this year's average on the back of weak fundamentals likely to persist throughout Q3, as per Reuters. South Korea's Honam paid a narrower discount for 50,000 tons of naphtha for H2- July arrival at US$3.50-4/ton to Japan spot quotes on a cost-and-freight (C&F) basis vs LG Chem's deal the previous day at minus $5/ton. Despite the narrower discount, the market remained in contango as Formosa's shutdown of a cracker following a fire at its pipeline on May 12 continued to impact sentiment. Formosa had shut the same cracker last July because of a fire at a distillation tower. A large volume of European naphtha has not found buyers in the U.S. or Asia. The poor outlook for sellers, at least in the short-term, has prevented Kuwait Petroleum Corp (KPC) from giving a firm offer for supplies lifting August 2011 to July 2012 to Asian buyers. But some traders said KPC could be aiming for US$20/ton to Middle East quotes on a free-on-board (FOB) basis, similar to what Saudi Aramco, ADNOC and Tasweeq had recently obtained in their term deals.
The price for front-month H1-August fell by US$17.25 to US$949/ton, lowest since May 23 at the same level. Naphtha cracks surged by US$15.22 to US$88.0/ton.