Asia and Middle East Naphtha Market Commentary

The Asian naphtha market started Tuesday on a soft note as demand for spot supplies among participants tapered after requirements were mostly covered during the Lunar New Year week. More arbitrage cargoes are expected to steer slowly towards Asia from Europe in the next month, however, after a prolonged delay for some parcels due to the weather, market sources said. Two sources expected around 1.7 million mt of arbitraged volume to arrive in the Far East in March, as opposed to 1.5 million mt for February-arrival. The East/West naphtha swap spread appeared to be reacting to the gradual shift in arbitrage low, as it retreated to plus $14.75/mt at the Asian close last Tuesday, and was later pegged at plus $14.5/mt during the mid-morning trading session in Asia on Tuesday. It stood at plus $17.25/mt at the start of the month. While there were no purchase tenders in the physical market in sight, spot cargo offers remained stable. Reliance Industries Ltd, from India is offering 55,000 mt of naphtha with minimum 70% or 77% paraffin content for March 11-15 lifting from Sikka, in a tender closing on February 12, with same-day validity. Last week, Hanwha Total Petrochemical in South Korea sold a 30,000 mt light naphtha parcel for loading over March 13-15 to an unknown buyer, at a low single digit premium to H2 February average to Mean of CSG Japan naphtha assessments, FOB Daesan, market sources said. The company could not be reached immediately to verify the trade details. India’s Nayara Energy Limited, sold up to 35,000 mt of naphtha with minimum 65% paraffin and maximum 500 ppm sulfur for lifting over March 1-5, at a premium of around mid-high teens to March average of Mean of CSG Arab Gulf naphtha assessments, FOB. On cracker activity, South Korea’s Lotte Chemical plans to restart its steam cracker in Yeosu on February 11 after the cracker was shut late February 7 due to a power failure, a company source told S&P Global CSG last week. As of Tuesday, the cracker had yet to restart.

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