Asia Pacific News

International gasoline costs soar as Asia, U.S. to rev up demand in second quarter

Gasoline costs in Asia, Europe and the USA all scaled 1-year highs this week, whereas benchmark international crude oil Brent futures topped $60 per barrel for the primary time in a 12 months.

The firmer costs are welcome information after the oil sector suffered its worst ever demand contraction in 2020, encouraging merchants to empty brimming storage tanks to ease a provide glut.

(GRAPHIC: International gasoline costs –


There are, nevertheless, questions over how rapidly refiners with idled capability can reply to elevated demand. Analysts say the restoration tempo will range by area and gasoline sort, and that jet gasoline demand will stay the weakest performer till extra worldwide air journey resumes.

In its outlook on Thursday, the Group of the Petroleum Exporting Nations (OPEC) famous that present oil demand ranges have been nonetheless “lagging” prior forecasts – an remark that knocked costs – however are anticipated to choose up within the second half of 2021.

The Worldwide Power Company (IEA), in a separate forecast on Thursday, mentioned it anticipated demand to rise strongly later this 12 months.


Asia Pacific gasoline demand is predicted to get better to 2019 ranges by the tip of the primary quarter, following the area’s return to pre-COVID gasoil consumption ranges in late 2020, mentioned Max van der Velden, principal analyst at Wooden Mackenzie.

“That is primarily pushed by China which has managed the pandemic very effectively,” van der Velden mentioned. “We forecast the influence of renewed Chinese language lockdown measures that limit mobility to be short-lived.”

An accelerating shift from public transport to non-public vehicles can also be bullish for China’s gasoline demand, he mentioned.

Recovering industrial exercise in India – the second largest web oil importer behind China – has additionally tightened provides of diesel, or gasoil, throughout Asia, which is often a web exporter of the gasoline.

(GRAPHIC: Key Asian economies are recovering following sharp contractions in 2020 –


With Asian refiners scheduled to curb output for annual facility upkeep within the second quarter, Asia’s gasoil surplus may slim to round 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) in April-Could from 500,000 bpd within the first quarter, FGE analyst Sandy Kwa mentioned.

Asia’s gasoline demand is predicted to extend by 400,000 bpd in February from January, Kwa added, noting that the growth over the identical interval in 2019 was nearer to 600,000 bpd.

Increased diesel demand in Europe might also take in extra Asian provides, Kwa added.


U.S. gasoline costs for Could, when the height driving season sometimes will get underway, have climbed 16% up to now this 12 months, placing them above corresponding ranges in 2020 and 2019 on enhancing demand and constrained provide.

(GRAPHIC: U.S. Could gasoline futures costs push above the place they have been right now in 2020 & 2019 –


U.S. gasoline output has partially recovered from the lows of the pandemic, however was nonetheless down 11% on the 12 months in January, whereas shares have been roughly 3.2% decrease, based on American Petroleum Institute information.

(GRAPHIC: U.S. gasoline manufacturing and shares –


That decrease stage of output and shares means refiners and merchants could also be caught “flatfooted” if demand surges, mentioned John Kilduff, companion at Once more Capital in New York.

Wooden Mackenzie analyst Paula Jara mentioned U.S. gasoline demand will attain 8.83 million bpd this 12 months. That is about 800,000 bpd above 2020 ranges however nonetheless round 500,000 bpd beneath 2019 ranges.

Truck site visitors held up higher than passenger automobile journey due to elevated deliveries of meals, items and protecting tools. Because of this, demand for diesel fell by solely 340,000 bpd versus 2019, Jara mentioned.

For 2021, complete U.S. diesel use is predicted to be 3.5% above 2020’s ranges, however round 3% beneath 2019’s complete, she added.


In Europe, renewed lockdowns and a low fee of vaccinations would possibly quash gasoline demand within the coming weeks, however higher climate and eased journey restrictions within the spring will seemingly increase gasoline demand by June, analysts mentioned.

European refining margins are nonetheless decrease than a 12 months in the past, however rising costs and narrowing worth spreads between gasoil futures supply months signifies a tightening market, analysts mentioned.

(GRAPHIC: European gasoil costs push larger & worth spreads slim on improved demand expectations –


The six-month diesel contango reached $1 a tonne on February 5, its narrowest in nearly a 12 months, Refinitiv information confirmed.

(GRAPHIC: Europe gasoline costs –


European gasoline and diesel demand to rise by some 900,000 bpd to eight.3 million bpd by June, based on Rystad Power.

“We’re forecasting financial development and a restoration in mobility related to lockdowns easing from a mixture of higher climate and vaccination programmes (by means of June), which will increase international gasoline demand by over 2 million b/d over that interval,” mentioned Alan Gelder at Wooden Mackenzie.

(Reporting by Koustav Samanta and Florence Tan in Singapore, Ahmad Ghaddar and Bozorgmehr Sharafedin in London and Stephanie Kelly in New York; Enhancing by Gavin Maguire and Jane Wardell)

By Koustav Samanta, Stephanie Kelly and Ahmad Ghaddar

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