March 14 (Reuters) – Gasoline stocks independently held in the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp hub fell 4.4 percent this week, off a two-year high, data from Dutch oil analyst Pieter Kulsen showed on Thursday.
Naphtha, gasoil, fuel oil and jet fuel stocks nevertheless rose this week. The drop in gasoline stocks to 981,000 tonnes was due to the switch from winter-grade to summer-grade product which takes place throughout the month of March, Kulsen said.
An increased number of refineries undergoing seasonal maintenance has further limited supplies, he added.
“Demand for gasoline is picking up as winter-grade is changing to summer-grade and also because of maintenance that is taking out product,” Kulsen said.
“During March traders dispose of winter stocks and pick up summer cargoes ahead of the increased summer demand,” he said.
The number of cargoes traded was higher than barges, despite signs of increased trading activity along the Rhine river in Germany, France and Switzerland.
Gasoline cargoes arrived from Denmark, Finland, France, Norway, Poland, Russia and Britain and departed for Mexico, Nigeria, Guinea and the United States.
Gasoline exports to the U.S. have decreased in recent weeks, pressuring European production, as a sharp rise in bioethanol blending credits, or RINs (Renewable Identification Number), cut down profits from the trans-Atlantic trade.
“The ethanol credits seem to have an effect on outgoing cargoes to the United States,” Kulsen said.
Naphtha stocks rose 9 percent from last week despite increased blending into gasoline by refiners and higher demand from the plastic industry, he said. Cargoes arrived from Russia but there were no outgoing naphtha vessels.
A 3.4 percent rise in gasoil stocks to 2.434 million tonnes comes amid increased cargo and barge trades in Europe.
“Gasoil trade is picking up after the European cold snap encouraged some end-users to replenish stocks,” Kulsen said.
Accelerated agricultural activity ahead of the planting season further increased demand for gasoil, he added.
Gasoil cargoes arrived from India, Finland, Norway and Russia, and departed for France and West Africa for orders.
Jet fuel stocks rose 16.1 percent to 374,000 tonnes as refiners anticipate increased demand from the aviation sector ahead of the summer holiday season.
Fuel oil stocks fell by 0.6 percent to 642,000 tonnes, with some product being used for bunkering.