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Indonesia's Pertamina to import up to 11 mil barrels gasoline in Dec: sources

Singapore — Indonesia's state-owned Pertamina is estimated to import around 10-11 million barrels of gasoline in December, steady from November, market sources said Tuesday.

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Market watchers were unable to provide a breakdown of volumes between the three grades of 88 RON, 92 RON and 95 RON for December.

Despite news that imports will be steady during the seasonal lull period, and higher compared to last December's imports of 9.58 million barrels, this has done little to revive the sluggish market, which has seen cracks and prices both plunging to year lows on chronic oversupply globally and a falling crude complex.

"It is better than the 8-9 million barrels [per month] Pertamina imported in the first half of the year but I still don't think that this will be enough to add any lift to demand when fundamentals are overall still weak," a Singapore-based trader said.

Pertamina imported an average of 9.2 million barrels of gasoline per month over January to June, data from Statistics Indonesia showed.

The benchmark FOB Singapore 92 RON gasoline crack against front-month Brent crude oil futures plunged to a seven-year low of -$1.17/b on November 8, S&P Global Platts data showed. The crack, which was last lower on November 21, 2011, when it was assessed at -$1.73/b, has since rebounded to $1.20/b Monday.

Reflecting the weak market, the Asian gasoline market remained firmly entrenched in contango, with the Singapore December/January timespread at minus 25 cents/b Monday, and the January/February spread even lower at minus 38 cents/b.

The company has issued a spot tender seeking 600,000 barrels of high-octane mogas component (HOMC) 92 RON gasoline loading from Singapore or Malaysia over December 1-3 or delivery to Tanjung Uban over December 4-6. The tender closed December 14 with validity until December 16, but it was unclear if the tender has been awarded.

The state-owned oil and gas company also issued several term tenders seeking 88 RON, 92 RON and 98 RON gasoline for loading over January-June 2019, based on open tenders seen by S&P Global Platts. Sources said these purchases were routine and were unlikely to add support to regional demand.

In one, Pertamina sought two to three cargoes ranging 30,000 barrels to 50,000 barrels per month of 98 RON gasoline for loading from Singapore or Malaysia, while in another, the state owned company sought 500,000 barrels per month of HOMC 92 RON gasoline loading from Singapore or Malaysia or delivery to Tanjung Uban. Both tenders closed on November 16 with validity until November 23 and 26 respectively.

Pertamina also issued two other tenders for 92 RON gasoline cargoes and two tenders for 88 RON gasoline cargoes for loading over H1 2019. The tenders have yet to be awarded as Pertamina is still in negotiations with suppliers, according to market participants.

--Mark Tan, mark.tan@spglobal.com

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

--Edited by Liz Thang, elizabeth.thang@spglobal.com