June 01, 2020 [Argus Media] – Storage firms in the Mediterranean region report slightly higher product draws this month than in April, but the strength of any increase in demand remains uncertain.
Draw down on longer term oil storage was close to zero last month, terminal operators said, because of movement restrictions in place in Spain, Italy and France. The only movement was some petrochemical cargoes and some shipments that passed in and out of transit storage.
The Spanish Mediterranean port of Barcelona reported a sharp rise in diesel cargoes transiting through in April, at 55,000 b/d the highest level for more than a year. Companies said firms looking for longer term storage were often disappointed. Overall throughput of light products, diesel, gasoil and biofuels have dwindled in the past three months as regional demand fell and storage filled (see chart).
Gasoline and light products throughput at Barcelona fell after a sharp rise in March, with 50,000 b/d moving in and out of the port. Of this 30,000 b/d was in transit. The total was down from 95,000 b/d on the month. Some naphtha moved in April, almost all as feedstock for petrochemical plants. Total bought 260,000 bl out of Barcelona storage for delivery to Lavera, where it operates Naphthachimie in a 50:50 joint venture with Chinese-UK refiner Petroineos.
Biofuels traffic throughput at Barcelona was 340,000t in the first four months of the year, down by 25pc on the same period last year, even as blend mandates have increased. Throughput was 80,000t in April, down by 58pc on the year, of which close to half was in transit.
Spanish fuels distributor CLH runs a terminal at Barcelona and some of the cargoes that arrive at the port are held there for onward distribution. CLH said there was a slight rise in demand in the week starting 18 May, with diesel down by 34pc on the year and gasoline down by 50pc. This was better than the same week in April, when gasoline withdrawal was down by 81pc and diesel by 55pc.
Storage companies are uncertain if this increase in demand is adequate to clear the amount of storage space that would allow refiners to increase output.
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