Pakistan looks east as Iranian gasoline supply dwindles

  • Market: Oil products
  • 20/09/21

A recent drop in Iranian gasoline exports has sent ripples through the Mideast Gulf market, forcing major importers such as Pakistan to look to Asia-Pacific for supplies.

Iran's gasoline exports almost ground to a halt in July and August as the country navigated the transition from Hassan Rouhani's government to the new administration of Ebrahim Raisi. A directive from Iran's oil ministry to scale back exports to ensure storage tanks at distribution and export terminals were full ahead of the start of the new administration's term was a key factor. There was also a changing of the guard that saw many companies involved in exporting refined products during the previous government's time in office make way for firms affiliated with the new regime to take on the challenge in the face of sanctions, market sources told Argus.

Prior to the drop in exports this quarter, roughly 300,000-500,000 t/month of Iranian gasoline had been arriving at the UAE ports of Fujairah, Hamriyah and Jebel Ali, according to estimates from traders. After blending, a big chunk of this was being re-exported to Pakistan, but those flows have since declined sharply. "The usual blenders are nowhere to be seen and their tanks are empty," one trader said. "Iranian barrels have not landed in Pakistan since July."

At the same time, overland fuel smuggling from Iran to Pakistan has also become complicated. An average of 20,000 b/d of gasoline was smuggled on this route last year, according to estimates from consultancy FGE. But to prevent illegal trade, Pakistan has now imposed a quota on how many trucks are allowed to cross the border, creating unrest in border communities that have profited from the illegal trade for years. Pakistan is due to complete building a fence along the Iranian border by the end of this year. The two governments signed an initial agreement in April to establish "border markets" to promote legal trade, but it is unclear how such markets would operate.

Pakistan typically relies on imports to meet around 70pc of its gasoline needs. The country imported 440,000t of gasoline in July and 515,000t in August, according to Vortexa. Another 641,000t is expected to arrive this month. But at the same time, imports from the UAE have been dropping significantly — from 339,000t in June to 246,000t in July and 142,000t last month. Just 85,000t is expected in September.

Look east

Suppliers in Asia-Pacific including China have benefited from the decline in Iranian gasoline exports. Pakistan had already emerged as a new outlet for Chinese gasoline following its switch to the oxygenated Euro-5 standard specifications for gasoline on 1 August. Most Chinese gasoline cargoes are oxygenated and low-sulphur, in line with Pakistan's new specification.

The amount of gasoline moving from China to Pakistan has increased since the specification shift, and more cargoes have appeared on shipping fixture lists for September loading, traders said. There have also been rare exports to Pakistan from Singapore, with government agency Enterprise Singapore reporting that 465,000 bl of gasoline was shipped to Pakistan in the week to 15 September.

Pakistan is not the only country being forced to look east for gasoline supplies. Amid unfavourable arbitrage economics to import supply from west of the Suez Canal, Iraq recently awarded a mini-term tender to China's Unipec and Sinochem. Cargoes being pulled out of Singapore and into the Mideast Gulf have lent support to gasoline prices. The Argus 92R gasoline price was at a $7.16/bl premium against Ice Brent crude on 17 September, compared with $6.48/bl on 1 September.


Sharelinkedin-sharetwitter-sharefacebook-shareemail-share

Related news posts

Argus illuminates the markets by putting a lens on the areas that matter most to you. The market news and commentary we publish reveals vital insights that enable you to make stronger, well-informed decisions. Explore a selection of news stories related to this one.

News
24/04/24

Cepsa supplies HVO bunker fuel in Algeciras

Cepsa supplies HVO bunker fuel in Algeciras

London, 24 April (Argus) — Spanish refiner and bunker fuel supplier Cepsa has recently delivered 150t of 100pc hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) by truck to the Ramform Hyperion at the port of Algeciras. The supply follows market participants reporting firmer buying interest for HVO as a marine fuel from ferry lines in the Mediterranean in recent sessions. The supplied HVO is said to be of class II, with used cooking oil (UCO) as the feedstock. Cepsa added that the supply was completed in cooperation with Bunker Holding subsidiary Glander International Bunkering, and could bring about a greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction of up to 90pc compared with conventional fuel oil. Cepsa will also look to obtain capability to supply marine biodiesel blends exceeding 25pc biodiesel content by the end of the year, delegates heard at the International Bunker Conference (IBC) 2024 in Norway. This also follows plans by Cepsa to build a 500,000 t/yr HVO plant in Huelva , set to start production in the first half of 2026. Argus assessed the price of class II HVO on a fob Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp (ARA) basis at an average of $1,765.54/t in April so far, a premium of $906.41/t to marine gasoil (MGO) dob Algeciras prices in the same month. By Hussein Al-Khalisy Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Read more
News

New ISO 8217 eyes wider scope for alternative fuels


24/04/24
News
24/04/24

New ISO 8217 eyes wider scope for alternative fuels

London, 24 April (Argus) — The 7th edition of ISO 8217, to be published in the second quarter of this year, will outline a broader integration of marine biodiesel blending, delegates heard at the International Bunker Conference (IBC) 2024 in Norway. Tim Wilson, principal specialist fuels of Lloyds Register's fuel oil bunkering analysis and advisory service (FOBAS), presented on the upcoming iteration of the ISO 8217 marine fuel specification standard, which will be released at IBC 2024. The new edition will incorporate specification standards for a wide range of fatty acid methyl ester (Fame)-based marine biodiesel blends up to B100, 100pc hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO), as well as synthetic and renewable marine fuels. This will also include additional clauses to cover a wider scope, and briefly touch on biodiesel specifications that do not entirely align with road biodiesel EN-14214 specifications. This follows the emergence of widening price spreads for marine biodiesel blends because of specification differences and the lack of a marine-specific standard for the blends. The new edition of ISO 8217 is also expected to remove the limit of 7pc Fame when blended with distillate marine fuels such as marine gasoil (MGO) which was in place in the previous ISO 8217:2017. Other changes to distillate marine biodiesel blends include changes to the minimum Cetane Index, oxidation stability alignment to be connected to either ISO 15751 for blends comprising 2pc or more of Fame biodiesel and ISO 12205 for blends comprising a Fame component of under 2pc. Cold-filter plugging point (CFPP) properties will be determined by the vessel's fuel storage tanks' heating capabilities and requirements will be set in place to report the CFPP for distillate marine biodiesel grades, according to the new edition of the marine fuel specification standard. Wilson said that a minimum kinematic viscosity at 50°C will be in place for various forms of residual bunker fuel oil along with a viscosity control alerting suppliers to inform buyers of the exact viscosity in the supplied fuel. He said they have seen delivered fuel viscosity come in at much lower levels than ordered by the buyers, which was the reasoning behind the viscosity control monitoring requirement. By Hussein Al-Khalisy Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

News

Peninsula eyes B100 marine fuel supply in Barcelona


24/04/24
News
24/04/24

Peninsula eyes B100 marine fuel supply in Barcelona

London, 24 April (Argus) — Marine fuel supplier and trader Peninsula has added a chemical tanker to its fleet in Barcelona, with a view to supply the port with B100 marine biodiesel. Aalborg meets chemical tanker regulations under the International Maritime Organisation (IMO)'s International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) Annex II. This means the tanker can supply marine biodiesel blends containing up to 100pc fatty acid methyl ester (Fame), which conventional oil tankers are unable to do . Oil tankers and barges are limited to up to 25pc Fame. Peninsula added that the Aalborg is also used to supply conventional fossil bunker fuels such as very-low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO) and marine gasoil (MGO). It is yet to complete a B100 delivery in Barcelona. Market participants pointed to limited demand for B100 in the Mediterranean, but regulatory changes such as the introduction of FuelEU maritime next year may help to support demand for marine biodiesel blends. By Hussein Al-Khalisy Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

News

USGC LNG-VLSFO discount to steady itself


23/04/24
News
23/04/24

USGC LNG-VLSFO discount to steady itself

New York, 23 April (Argus) — The premium for US Gulf coast (USGC) very low-sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO) to LNG is expected to linger but not widen this spring, maintaining interest in LNG as a bunkering fuel. US Gulf coast LNG prices slipped from a premium to a discount to VLSFO in March 2023 and have remained there since. The discount surpassed 200/t VLSFO-equivalent in January (see chart). Both LNG and VLSFO prices are expected to remain under downward pressure due to high inventories, which could keep the current LNG discount steady. The US winter natural gas withdrawal season ended with 39pc more natural gas in storage compared with the five-year average, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). Henry Hub natural gas monthly average prices dropped below $2/mmBtu in February, for the first time since September 2020, Argus data showed. The EIA expects the US will produce less natural gas on average in the second and third quarter of 2024 compared with the first quarter of 2024. Despite lower production, the US will have the most natural gas in storage on record when the winter withdrawal season begins in November, says the EIA. As a result, the agency forecasts the Henry Hub spot price to average less than $2/mmBtu in the second quarter before "increasing slightly" in the third quarter. EIA's forecast for all of 2024 averages about $2.20/mmBtu. US Gulf coast VLSFO is facing downward price pressure as demand falls and increased refinery activity signals a potential supply build . Rising Gulf coast refinery activity was likely behind some of the drop in prices. Gulf coast refinery utilization last week rose to 91.4pc, the highest in 12 weeks and up by 0.9 percentage points from the prior week. US Gulf coast suppliers are also eyeing strong fuel oil price competition from eastern hemisphere ports such as Singapore and Zhoushan, China, importing cheap Russian residual fuel oil. In general, LNG's substantial discount to VLSFO has kept interest in LNG for bunkering from ship owners with LNG-burning vessels high. The EIA discontinued publishing US bunker sales statistics with the last data available for 2020. But data from the Singapore Maritime & Port Authority, where the LNG–VLSFO discount widened to over $200/t VLSFOe in February, showed Singapore LNG for bunkering demand increase 11.4 times to 75,900t in the first quarter compared with 6,700t in the first quarter of 2023 and 110,900t for full year 2022. By Stefka Wechsler US Gulf coast LNG vs VLSFO $/t VLSFOe Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

News

Kuwait’s KPC agrees VLSFO term supply contract with QE


23/04/24
News
23/04/24

Kuwait’s KPC agrees VLSFO term supply contract with QE

Singapore, 23 April (Argus) — Kuwait's KPC has signed a term agreement with fellow state-owned firm Qatar Energy (QE) to supply very-low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO) for loading over July 2024 through to June 2025. The VLSFO supplied amounts to 1.2mn t/yr (21,000 b/d). KPC finalised the term contract at around a $8-9/t premium against the average of Singapore 0.5pc marine fuel spot assessments, according to a source close to the company. QE has expanded its own bunkering infrastructure at the port of Ras Laffan and started relying on VLSFO supplied from Kuwait's 615,000 b/d al-Zour refinery since early last year. The VLSFO supplied is to meet the country's bunkering demand. QE had a previous mini term VLSFO agreement with KPC last year. KPC supplied around 1-2 Medium Range size vessels of VLSFO each month from January 2023 to March this year, according to global trade analytics platform Kpler. The announcement of the term deal left the market unfazed, said a Dubai based fuel oil trader, as KPC has regularly offered term tenders over the year. Supplies to QE has been continuing since last year, with the deal merely being a renewal of their previous agreement, the trader added. This is KPC's third official term contract concluded since the start-up of al-Zour in late 2022. The first term contract was awarded for second-half 2023 loading to Shell, with the second to ExxonMobil for first-half 2024 loading. The terms of the two contracts stated a minimum of 80,000 t/month and a maximum of 720,000 t/month of VLSFO, with KPC having discretion over the total volume. Al-Zour can produce around 11mn-12mn t/yr of VLSFO at full capacity, with around half of it allocated for exports. By Asill Bardh Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Business intelligence reports

Get concise, trustworthy and unbiased analysis of the latest trends and developments in oil and energy markets. These reports are specially created for decision makers who don’t have time to track markets day-by-day, minute-by-minute.

Learn more