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Indonesia's Pertamina plans to import 6.8-7.5 million barrels of gasoline in May, down 11%-19% from the 8.4 million barrels estimated as April imports, according to market sources.

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This was another noticeable decrease month on month from an average of around 10.55 million b/month in the first quarter.

May imports will comprise 4.7-5 million barrels of 88 RON gasoline and 2.1-2.5 million barrels of finished 92 RON gasoline.

The estimate for April's imports comprised 5.3-5.5 million barrels of 88 RON gasoline and about 3 million barrels of finished 92 RON gasoline, according to market sources.

Traders said that Pertamina's gasoline imports were higher than expected in January and February, but buying interest is limited in March and April.

A trader summed it up by saying: "Talk is they over-bought in quarter one."

A market participant said that Pertamina's fuel blending facility at Tanjung Uban, near Singapore, might have led to Indonesia decreasing its international imports. But another trader did not believe this to be the case, as "the refinery has not started blending to make gasoline" at present and they understood it would only start blending by the third quarter, at the earliest.

Some market participants had been hopeful that the upcoming holy month of Ramadan would cause Pertamina to increase their imports, but import figures for May did not support this.

Pertamina is currently doing maintenance work at its 60,000 b/d crude distillation unit at its 260,000 b/d Balikpapan refinery. The shutdown started April 1 and will last till May 10.

In 2016, Indonesia imported a total of 12.458 million mt of gasoline, 11.95% lower than 14.148 million mt in 2015, according to Statistics Indonesia.

Pertamina owns and operates seven oil refineries in Indonesia, with a combined installed capacity of 1.05 million b/d. But with most of the plants aging, they operate at around 800,000 b/d, and the company relies on imports to meet domestic oil products demand that doubles actual production.

--Jade Halford,

--Edited by Arnab Banerjee,