Thai Feb base oil exports surge on month, but stay low

  • : Oil products
  • 24/04/02

Thailand's base oil exports more than doubled on the month in February, but remained under pressure given production issues in January.

Thailand exported 15,900 kilolitres (14,000t) of base oils in February — more than double from 6,000kl in January — but 42pc lower than the same month last year, according to GTT data. Exports in February were also 11pc less than the five year monthly average of 17,900kl.

Exports had plunged in January as production issues affected base oils output at both Thai refineries, which curbed supplies for spot trade.

A key Thai refinery announced a maintenance at its crude distillation unit from 16 January, lasting for around 13 days and disrupting feedstock supplies to its base oils unit.

There were production issues at another Thai refinery in the middle of December 2023, and it subsequently underwent maintenance from the second half of January to early February.

Spot offers from both Thai producers remained scant in February, even after their respective maintenances were completed.

Thai cargoes went to three main buyers in February. Singapore, China and Indonesia took 56pc, 24pc and 18pc of total Thai exports respectively.

Singapore imported 8,900kl of Thai base oils, more than double from 3,500kl in January but 28pc down from 12,400kl in February 2023. February levels were comparable to the five year average monthly quantity of 8,500kl. Firm demand from marine lubricant blenders in the city state supported buying interest in Thailand's heavy grade base oils.

China's imports rose by 59pc on the month to 3,900kl in February, driven by restocking efforts ahead of the lunar new year holiday. But limited cargo availability and lingering uncertainty over China's economic recovery pressured demand, with imports down by 65pc compared to February 2023. Shipments were also below the five year average of 4,500 kl/month.

Indonesia bought 2,800kl of base oils in February. This was the fourth time that Indonesia procured base oils from Thailand in nine months, following zero shipments between January 2021 and May 2023. Thai exports to Indonesia are typically infrequent and irregular in timing and quantity, as most Indonesian blenders are reliant on supplies from Indonesia's state-owned refiner Pertamina. Both Thailand and Indonesia produce Group I base oils.

Thailand's base oil exportskl
Feb'24Jan'24Feb'23m-o-m ± %y-o-y ± %
Singapore8,9433,46912,422157.8-28.0
China3,8782,44211,10358.8-65.1
Indonesia2,78700NANA
Total15,8585,95127,457166.5-42.2
Total includes all countries, not just those listed

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