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Feature: Europe displaces India as third biggest gasoline supplier to Australia

Singapore — Europe has displaced India as the third biggest supplier of gasoline to Australia over January to August, thanks to more viable east-west arbitrage economics, and as Australia attempts to diversify supplies, according to market sources and data from Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

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Australia's top three gasoline suppliers over January to August are North Asia, Singapore and Europe, as opposed to North Asia, Singapore and India last year, data from ABS showed.

Europe's share of the market surged from 0.01% last year to 19.2% over January to August, the highest it has been in recent years.

India's share, on the other hand, slumped from 12.6% last year to 4.45%. Imports from India stopped since February but resumed in August, while in contrast, Australia started importing substantially from Europe since February though imports were down sharply in August.

"Generally, India has lowered its export volumes for gasoline this year... it may not just be the case for Australia," a Singapore-based source said.

India's gasoline exports over January to August were down 10%-11% year on year, to 8.79 million mt from 9.81 million mt due to a rise in domestic demand amid largely steady production levels and a refinery outage in August which crimped exports, latest data from India's Petroleum Planning & Analysis Cell showed. Gasoline demand in India over January to August rose 9.9% to 18.4 million mt from 16.7 million mt, while production edged up 3.1% to 24.9 million mt from 25.66 million mt over the same period.

Australia imported a total 643,821 mt of gasoline from Europe over January to August. Netherlands is the biggest supplier, followed by the United Kingdom and Belgium.

"It seems to be quite natural for arbitrage [gasoline] cargoes going from Europe to Australia this year as the [East-West] spread is well supported," a gasoline trader with a North Asian refiner said.

"Gasoline [supplies] in Europe are in excess. If it does not go to the US, then traders may take the excess cargoes from Europe to Australia," an India-based source said.

North Asia took over the crown from Singapore as the dominant supplier of gasoline to Australia in 2015. Although North Asia remained in the top spot, its share of Australia's total gasoline imports over January to August fell from nearly 41% last year to 30.9% as some volumes were displaced by Europe.

Singapore's share fell from 30.6% to 27.9% over the same period.

Australia imported 3.33 million mt of gasoline over January to August, down slightly from 3.5 million mt in the same period last year. About 35-40% of Australia's total gasoline supply is imported.

The country uses gasoline with a maximum sulfur limit of 150 ppm in regular gasoline and 50 ppm limit for premium grade. The market predominantly uses non-oxygenated gasoline.

"I do not think Australian buyers have appetite to buy [much] gasoline cargoes from Asia ... there are now arbitrage cargoes coming from the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp region (ARA) to Australia," another trader source with a North Asian refiner said.

STEADY FLOW OF MOGAS ON LR TANKERS FROM ARA

Seven Long Range 2 tankers delivered gasoline from ARA to Australia since February, with another vessel booked to leave ARA in early-October to deliver a gasoline cargo to Australia, S&P Global Platts' trade flow software, cFlow and shipping fixtures showed. The most recent charter was that Total fixed the SKS Donggang for an ARA to Australia voyage, loading 90,000 mt of gasoline over October 3, at $1.975 million.

Majority of the previous European gasoline shipments were from Trafigura, as the Seriana, the Front Lion and the Front Tiger were vessels from Trafigura's own fleet. Trafigura also chartered the Seaways Shenandoah and STI Gauntlet for the voyage, shipping data showed.

"Ampol has contracted imports of gasoline from Europe and the Middle East," a source familiar with the matter said.

Shipping data showed Ampol had chartered the Maersk Penguin to ship gasoline into Botany Bay from Amsterdam.

"A few cargoes are moving from Europe to Asia but not all companies are doing it," a Singapore-based chartering executive with a global commodities trading company said.

RECORD IMPORTS FROM US

Apart from Europe, Australia has also raised its imports from the United States this year, with imports hitting a multi-year high. From January to July, 149,745 mt of US gasoline found its way to Australia. ABS data from 2012 to date showed yearly imports were only between 10,000 mt-36,745 mt.

In June, US gasoline exports to Australia hit a new monthly high in almost 15 years, which amounted to 15,000 b/d, surpassing the 14,000 b/d for May, US Energy Information Administration data showed.

This was close to the all-time monthly high of 17,000 b/d set in December 1993, the EIA data showed.

A different set of EIA data showed these exports had originated from the USGC, which sent 446,000 barrels of gasoline to Australia in May. While US West Coast sources have said USWC gasoline will travel to Australia once in a while, EIA data showed that none was sent from the USWC in May.

AUSTRALIA GASOLINE IMPORTS

Volumes: World (mt) % from Singapore % from South Korea % from North Asia % from Europe % from India % from US
Jan-17 454,857 31.92 47.95 63.00 0.01 0.00 0.00
Feb-17 512,874 54.61 29.42 29.42 0.01 2.45 0.00
Mar-17 699,717 44.15 37.25 39.29 0.00 10.36 0.00
Apr-17 369,911 36.86 45.00 45.00 0.00 18.14 0.00
May-17 429,588 33.44 41.73 41.73 0.00 0.00 0.00
Jun-17 299,491 32.90 24.66 28.55 0.00 17.77 0.00
Jul-17 330,943 19.81 44.50 48.03 0.01 3.84 0.00
Aug-17 406,259 25.66 20.89 20.89 0.00 0.00 0.00
Sep-17 196,890 28.47 25.73 31.69 0.01 38.08 0.00
Oct-17 450,539 6.93 43.00 52.55 0.01 24.79 0.00
Nov-17 362,607 28.11 40.00 43.17 0.00 15.03 0.00
Dec-17 356,131 24.49 37.76 48.44 0.00 20.71 0.00
Jan-18 485,566 30.98 40.59 47.86 0.01 18.56 0.00
Feb-18 554,717 39.84 19.74 24.50 20.33 0.00 6.79
Mar-18 389,413 24.94 28.36 28.36 31.68 0.00 0.00
Apr-18 360,722 25.76 29.24 32.47 13.10 0.00 0.00
May-18 481,014 25.86 16.14 24.96 31.51 0.00 0.00
Jun-18 332,432 21.61 22.48 22.48 33.22 0.00 18.00
Jul-18 410,816 29.83 27.64 30.44 23.95 0.00 12.72
Aug-18 313,662 24.44 25.13 35.78 0.00 17.07 0.00
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics
*Percentages are rounded to 2 decimal places

--Wanda Wang, wanda.wang@spglobal.com

--Dexter Wang, dex.wang@spglobal.com

--Jin Ming Lim, jinming.lim@spglobal.com

--Wendy Cheong, wendy.cheong@spglobal.com

--Edited by Norazlina Juma'at, norazlina.jumaat@spglobal.com