Saudi to slash naphtha term volumes to Asia
Singapore, May 14, 2009
Saudi Aramco, Asia's largest term supplier of naphtha, will cut volumes of the A180 light and A310 grades from Ras Tanura in its second-half 2009 contracts versus July-December last year, traders said.
This cut is coming in the light of shortages linked to an ongoing outage at its hydrocracker and to meet higher domestic demand.
Saudi Aramco usually exports about 1.6 million tonnes of A180 and 1.8 million tonnes of the A310 grades a year.
The heavyweight supplier, currently in the fourth day of its term talks for supplies for lifting in July-December, will cut volumes sold to one of its A310 term customer by nearly 70 percent to just one shipment.
"They have in fact stopped exporting A310 since March because of the hydrocracker," said a trader.
Industry sources had previously said that the 44,000 barrels per day (bpd) hydrocracker at Ras Tanura could restart around mid-May. But the time frame of the restart of the unit is not immediately clear.
As for the A180 grade, Saudi Aramco is diverting some of these feedstock to a petrochemical plant.
"My estimate is that they may now have 40,000-50,000 tonnes a month together with volumes coming out of Yanbu," said another customer, referring to A180 supplies coming out from the other refinery at Yanbu.
That makes up 240,000-300,000 tonnes for the entire six-month period versus 800,000 tonnes in July-December 2008. – Reuters