A fresh ripple of buying interest appeared, mildly lifting the mixed views held by participants on the outlook of the Asian naphtha market Friday. Petrochemical makers Yeochun NCC in South Korea and Lotte Chemical Titan in Malaysia are seeking second-half May delivery naphtha supplies. Both tenders close April 4. Naphtha physical cracks for CFR Japan against ICE Brent crude futures were pegged at a notional level of $47.475/mt at 0300 GMT Friday, slightly higher than $45.625/mt at Friday’s Asian close. Market sources said Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd., sold 35,000 mt naphtha with minimum 75% paraffin content, maximum 500 ppm sulfur content for April 24-26 loading at a premium of around $15.2/mt to Mean of Friday Arab Gulf naphtha assessments, FOB, pricing five days around bill of lading. The buyer was Petro diamond. Meanwhile, Iran’s oil ministry has reported progress on upgrades at some oil refineries in the past Iranian year, which ended on March 20. It also said processing at Iran’s refineries in the nine months from June 22 to March 20 averaged 1.947 million b/d, a 40-year high, and compared with a capacity of 2.1 million b/d. The Lavan oil refinery completed its hydrogen purification and light naphtha isomerization projects that had started in 2007. The two units helped to upgrade gasoline to Euro 4 standard. At the Isfahan refinery, the quality of gasoline output has improved to Euro 5 with the refinery now using a home-made catalyst. Also, Iran has completed the expansion and upgrade work on two key refineries — the third expansion of Persian Gulf Star condensates refinery and the upgrade of Bandar Abbas. Persian Gulf Star is producing 33 million liters/d of Euro 5 gasoline from its three phases. The total production capacity of the plant can be expanded to 45 million l/day. In data news, Japan’s total refined oil product stocks stood at 57.41 million barrels on March 30, down 4.9% from 60.37 million barrels the week before, the Petroleum Association of Japan said Friday. Stocks of naphtha came in at 8.64 million barrels, down 6.5% from the previous week, according to PAJ data. The stocks were also down 12.8% from a year earlier, Friday data showed. Japanese refiners produced 21.98 million barrels of oil products over March 24-30, up 2.5% from the week before, the Petroleum Association of Japan said Friday. Naphtha output rose 10% week to week at 2.62 million barrels over March 24-30.