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The impact of ARA barge transport on the feedstock within the petrochemical sector.

Gepubliceerd Jacob on 15 oktober 2018 14:35:30

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Naphtha is an intermediate hydrocarbon liquid stream derived from the refining of crude oil. It is in the ARA region mostly used as a gasoline blending component as feedstock within the petrochemical sector. Other important feedstocks for the petrochemical sector include ethane, propane and methane. The petrochemical sector is responsible for producing various materials such as plastic, paints, solvents, fibres and raw materials for pharmaceutical and cosmetics sectors.
The ARA-region, or Amsterdam – Rotterdam – Antwerp region is an area in The Netherlands and Belgium where various coastal and inland ports are interconnected and act as a global hub. Apart from the large ports Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Antwerp it includes Flushing, Ghent, Terneuzen and Moerdijk as other relevant ports. All these ports lie in the delta of various rivers, like the Rhine, Meuse and Scheldt, which flow into the North Sea and could be seen as gateway of the European continent. Hinterland markets are connected to global markets via these seaports, in particular the vast hinterland of German industrial centres and population. The river Rhine, Scheldt and Meuse enable barge transport to and from these ports to inland markets, which give the market its unique attractiveness and improves the position of the hub in the worldwide trade flows.

When we take a closer look at the feedstock prices we can observe that naphtha is the most expensive feedstock. In the image below you can see the historical monthly petrochemical feedstock prices from 2013 till 2018.

Although naphtha is the most expensive feedstock, it is the most used feedstock in the ARA region of all the substitutes mentioned above. There are various factors influencing this, but in this article we focus solely on the barge transport. As we have established earlier the Rhine has a unique position as being an important route for the transport of liquid bulk across different Western European countries. It is one of the world’s most frequented inland waterways. In Europe, there are more than 13.500 vessels offering inland freight transport services (dry cargo, tanker cargo and push & tug vessels) with a total loading capacity of 17 Mio tonnes. About 76% of the European fleet comes from Rhine countries. Source : Inland Navigation Europe. Tankers account for +- 15% of the total inland fleet.


Of the liquid bulk market, according to PJK’s interntional numbers you can see in the image below a comparison of the number of inland tankers showing that the clean (including chemical) tankers are far more dominant compared to gas tankers. While there are currently more gas tankers under construction, the same accounts for clean tankers. Clean tankers under construction are also bigger in terms of DWT, up to 10,000 DWT.




As mentioned before, naphtha is a liquid hydrocarbon mixture, which means it should be transported in double hull tanker, mainly to prevent cargo from leaking due to its hazardous nature. With regard to ethane and propane it is different as these are gases, and therefore have to be transported in special gas tankers, which are often fabricated with triple hulls and equipped with circular tanks. At the moment there are far more double hull tankers available in the market compared to the gas tankers, increasing supply of transport possibilities. Therefor the transport of naphtha is economically more feasible and accessible, despite the higher product costs.  Another reason for the high usage of naphtha in the region is the excess components received after cracking naphtha. These residues are used in the gasoline blending market, which holds a key position in the ARA and provide more usages of the excess valuable components like for example isomerate, raffinate, toluene and xylene.

As you can see a lot of factors influence the petrochemical market. Are you struggling to connect the dots of the petrochemical side of the cluster? We can then provide you with our ARA Petrochemical Tank Storage report, where we aim to shed some light on complex subjects by unravelling trends and themes that underlie current markets relevant for the ARA cluster and by giving an outlook for future states of these petrochemical markets.


Contact us at our headquarters in the Netherlands at +31 (0) 850 66 25 22

The contents of this article from PJK International has been written with the greatest possible care. However, PJK International cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information. The content of PJK International blog publications therefore are not legally binding. PJK International accepts no liability which might arise from the content of its blog.


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Gepubliceerd Jacob on 11 oktober 2018 16:00:23

As one of the most crucial tank storage hubs in the world, Singapore and nowadays the greater Singapore region play a fundamental role in global trade.

South East Asian countries have experienced tremendous economic growth over the past decades, and this upward trend even has had an impulse after the global financial crisis in 2008.  Going forward, trade imbalances, regulations and newly build capacity will continue to influence opportunities in the tank terminal industry in the greater Singapore region.


The continuously growing economies have driven supply and demand for oil products in Asia, with the Indian and especially Chinese economy increasing their production substantially. China, India, Japan and South Korea are the region’s largest suppliers of oil products, with China more than doubling any other country’s output in 2017.

South East Asian refinery output primarily consists of diesel and gasoline, accounting for 44% and 26% of the region’s total output in 2017 respectively. The productions of both products grew rapid over the past decade, more than any other main refinery output, while demand for both products in the region has increased gradually over the last decade.

South East Asia has surplussus of diesel, gasoline and jet-kerosene, meaning it produces more than it consumes of these products. A higher surpluss generally leads to higher exports of a product, implying an increased demand for temporary tank storage capacity. Deficits exist for fuel oil, naphtha and LPG, meaning South East Asia has to import these products from outside of the region.  Singapore’s tank terminal industry has been benefiting from this situation for a long time.


Malaysia and Indonesia aim at increasing their market share both approaching Singapore’ total tank storage capacity, while Singapore stays on alert with only minor expansions.

Singapore has been the largest provider of tank capacity in the Greater Singapore area and has roughly tripled its capacity since 2005, especially during the prolonged period of contango between 2005 and 2011, which supported demand for tank capacity. Market circumstances were less favorable after 2011, but the construction of new capacity had already begun adding new storage tanks after this date.

Malaysia is expected to almost double its capacity in 2018 with 4,900,000m3, while in Singapore a total of 370,000 m3 or a mere 2% of its total capacity is being constructed as of 2018. Indonesia has no capacity that is noteworthy under construction but has plans to add more than 7 million m3 in the future. This expansion would more than double the country’s total capacity, but whether these plans will be executed is uncertain.

Singapore will therefore primarily see increased competition from Malaysian tank storage operators.


The Tank Terminal industry in the Greater Singapore area is facing some new challenges, such as new restrictions on emissions, IMO 2020’s new bunker fuel specifications and logistical developments in Asia.

Environmental regulations will  have a downforce to gasoline and diesel demand in the region, changing national imbalances and thus trade flows.  A sharp decline in fuel oil demand as of 2020 on the other hand, will increase marine gasoil demand, which will result in less temporary storage of fuel oil in Singapore and increase the demand for temporary storage of marine gasoil.

There may also be pressure on demand for marine bunkering and temporary oil products storage in Singapore when alternative cargo routes replace the Strait of Malacca. These could include new One Belt One Road trade routes and China’s two Ocean’s strategy via pipelines through Myanmar.

Read next week final part of the Greater Singapore Tank Storage Market Outlook 2018 article. 

Based on extensive market research, PJK International – in partnership with Ener8 Limited – has produced a +75 pages report providing insights into the Tank Terminal Market in both Singapore and the greater Singapore area.

Click here to read the table of contents

For more information please contact aldo.cavalcanti@pjk-international.com

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Insights from Lars – comparing ARA and Rhine freight rates over the summer.

Gepubliceerd Jacob on 1 oktober 2018 15:04:03




Freight rates in both the ARA region as well as on the Rhine remained strong, supported by increasing demand and the ongoing low water levels, which are hampering intakes. Freight rates for Rhine based destinations have not only risen for Middle and Upper Rhine destinations, where loaded volumes are contracted by low water levels up pegel Kaub, but also destinations in the German Ruhr area are highely affected. The difference between ARA-routes like Cross Harbor transports, Antwerp – Amsterdam and Rhine based tranports to Duisburg or Cologne are shown below.

In common situations, freight rates per mton are increasing in line with the voyage durations. The strong demand, and therefore increasing rates, to German markets are seen in the two graphs. Besides the absolute freight rates, a graph is made for indexed freight rates. The base rates of 1st of May 2018 are used for this calculation. After a slow late-spring, with low freight rates per ton, rates started to increase from July on. This has been accelerated by decreasing water levels and increasing demand for automotive fuels in hinterland markets. Rates to the Ruhr area, which are longer voyages compared to ARA-transports and are therefore priced at higher levels, saw a steady increase during the summer season. In August, a distinction is seen between demand in ARA, which was fading, and up the Rhine, which was supported by diesel transports.



Last month, rates up the Rhine increased further. Water levels continued to stay low and the market regained support from outages at various refineries in Germany. The maintenance season is causing less local supply and an unplanned outage at the Vohburg refinery in Bavaria is limiting product supply even further. Importers are looking at alternative outlets and more product needs to be imported to handle domestic demand. This is partly done over the Rhine, where barges are still coping with loading restrictions. Imports by barge have however increased by over 60% during September compared to the summer months, as was seen in PJK’s Rhine barge flow reports. By comparison, rates to Lower Rhine destinations have more than quadrupled in the last months. The revenue per barge is somewhat lower due to less loaded volumes, but are still elevated. This is also seen in the ARA, where supply of barges is lacking due to the higher demand in Germany.


The demand for importing product in the coming weeks could remain high since end consumers still need to stock up heating oils for the winter. This has been postponed last spring due to the backwardated market structure, so stock levels in hinterland are relatively low. With inadequate local production, low availability of barges and high freight rates, keeping track of the markets is vital in order to stay up to date.



If you would like more information about our products like the Rhine flow service, barge freight rates and daily report contact our sales department in the Netherlands at 00 31 850 66 25 00.





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Quick insight ARA Tank Terminal capacity expansion

Gepubliceerd Jacob on 25 september 2018 14:07:00

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The ARA region is an important trading hub in Northwest Europe due to its infrastructure and fundamentals to serve the physical market for liquid trade. Location is key and ARA’s location is exceptional due to the Rhine river that connects with the Benelux countries, Switzerland, France and Germany. Also the ARA region provides refining facilities, tank storage and is seen as oil pricing center.

In the first image you can view the evolution of the tank terminal capacity in the greater ARA region. Important capacity additions in the past two years were done by Botlek Tank Terminals, Koole Tank Storage Minerals and NoordNatie Antwerp. At the same time we can observe various expansion activities in the ARA region, which will increase the current tank storage capacity further.

Secondly in the image below you can see the capacity under construction. Various players will also be adding capacity to their current storage capacity. The total amount of storage capacity under construction will be about 2.3% of current installed capacity and will be accessible in the coming years. Besides expansions , new terminals are expected to be built as well in various ports, focusing on liquid bulk like mineral oil products & petrochemicals.


We do expect some changes that might alter the ARA fuel oil market and petrochemical market and may therefor influence the tank storage market in those segments. Are you interested to get more information ? Join us on the 3rd of October 2018 at 16:00 CET for a free webinar session with one of our senior analysts. For more information you can also contact us at the headquarters in the Netherlands at 00 31 (0) 850 66 25 22.

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The contents of this article from PJK International has been written with the greatest possible care. However, PJK International cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information. The content of PJK International blog publications therefore are not legally binding. PJK International accepts no liability which might arise from the content of its blog.


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Gepubliceerd Jacob on 14 september 2018 9:14:11


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A brief observation of the Northwest European markets and its place in the global naphtha supply chain.

Tank terminals play a vital role in current global markets. Their primary function is to physically balance supply and demand along the supply chain and to facilitate opportunities. The ARA region is the main trading hub within Northwest Europe due to its outstanding infrastructure, its network with many active market players and its place within the overall supply chain. We will take a closer look at the naphtha markets in this region and its importance for the international oil markets. Naphtha is retrieved from various sources like condensate gas, petroleum distillates or the distillation of tar and is mostly used in the gasoline blending and petrochemical markets.
Within ARA, with the Port of Amsterdam being a gasoline blending hub, demand for naphtha is fairly high and it makes North West Europe net-importer for the product.Other regions like the Middle East , the Mediterranean and India are net-exporters which provide global trade flows of the product. Competition for import to North West Europe comes from petrochemical markets in East Asia, which are also big net-importers as seen in the top graph to the right. The imbalance between the supply and demand in the different regions provides trading opportunities in various ways.
The ARA naphtha import is headed by Russia, having the biggest volume compared to the other countries with UK, Germany, Algeria, France and Spain as well in the top six sources list, as seen in the graph. This shows the reliance on near as well as less local markets of the various market participants. A shrinking imbalance is negative for the ARA tank storage sector. However, considering the market size and the option to switch to the gasoline segment the impact seems small.
PJK International provides direct insight in the market by not only its annual Tank Terminal reports, but also with weekly reports on stock levels of various products (including naphtha) stored at independent tank terminals in the ARA region, a weekly report on the trade flows up and down the Rhine river and daily barge freight rates for transport within ARA and up the Rhine. This way, we provide tools for better and quicker decision making processes.


Would you like more information ?

For more information contact us at PJK International HQ in the Netherlands.

+31 (0)850 662500






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Insights from our analysts

Gepubliceerd Jacob on 13 september 2018 7:35:47

This weeks insight from Lars van Wageningen, our Operations Manager at PJK International, also quoted by Bill Lehane (Bloomberg) considers the market is getting tight. The inland stockpiles haven’t been replenished over summer because Rhine barges haven’t been able to operate at full capacity. Furthermore even as the water levels start to recover, the Rhine barge rates remain high; also barge traffic has risen on the main river. In addition the Bayernoil Vohburg refinery outage is also adding to tightness, with suppliers in that region looking further north for supply than usual.


Lars van Wageningen


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A quick Insight in the ARA petrochemical tank storage market.

Gepubliceerd Jacob on 10 september 2018 14:34:26

In Northwest Europe the oil and the petrochemical sectors are leading sectors that employ thousands of people directly and indirectly within the region. The main European production cluster for liquid bulk products is made up of the Benelux countries, Switzerland and the German and French regions that are connected to the Rhine river.

The Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Antwerp region or ARA is the main trade hub that connects Europe to global markets. The petrochemical sector is responsible for producing various materials such as plastics, paints, solvents, fibres and raw materials for pharmaceutical and cosmetics sector. Taking a closer look at the petrochemical side of the cluster and the different market participants in it, many of the companies produce goods in high-volume or ‘bulk’ quantities.

Companies in this cluster have been getting more exposed to severe competitive pressure. This has been Leading to the closure of for example La Mede refinery, Reichstett refinery, Petit Couronne refinery and the Wilhemshafen refinery. Also the decision made by Gunvor to not go ahead with their investment in upgrading the GPR site is a sign of high uncertainty amongst players about what the future will bring. Despite this at the same time there are others planning expansion like Ineos, one of the leading chemical companies with sales of around 60 billion dollars and their production network spans 171 sites and 24 countries. Ineos announced that their plan will have 2.7 billion capital investment in Northern Europe.

One of the things to watch in the future and the question for all is; where will the new Ineos plant be built. According to news articles both Rotterdam and Antwerp are being considered. As Ineos already has production sites in Antwerp we give Antwerp a slightly bigger chance, but you never know what the outcome will be. Either way it is likely to boost trade in ARA, as Ethane and propane imports will increase and most likely chemicals and intermediates trade will also increase.

For more information and details about the ARA petrochemical tank storage markets please contact us to get a complete report.


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“GRIPPING THOUGHTS”: Bertrand Chupin on The Challenges Ahead

Gepubliceerd Jacob on 10 september 2018 14:24:56

PJK International is an independent market research powerhouse that counts on a methodology that balances a data driven and quantitative approach with the assessment of an extensive network within the industry.

With “GRIPPING THOUGHTS” PJK International aims to share some ideas and insights from its network – partners, clients and friends – to help shedding light on the challenges that the industry faces, in the near and long future.

So join us, read and get inspired by our interview with BERTRAND CHUPIN, VP of the Loading Systems business unit of TechnipFMC, a global leader in subsea, onshore/offshore and surface projects, with about 37,000 employees.

Q:Bertrand, how would you describe the main market challenges at the present time?

The market has drastically and irreversibly changed over the last 5 years. Terminal owners are expecting vendors to significantly reduce equipment CAPEX. In addition, with fewer investments moving forward during this period of time. Competition has been and remains highly aggressive, pushing vendors to find innovative solutions to reduce costs. Also, once the investment decision is made, clients want their projects faster demanding shorter lead times. Finally, buyers are looking for first-class service, fast availability of spare parts, fast mobilization of site engineers and lower OPEX.

Q:And how do you see it evolving in a period of 5 to 10 years? What are the trends and challenges ahead of us?

Although the market and our clients significantly reduced investments during the last five years, we have observed signs of recovery in the last few months. Deep cost reductions have enabled projects that were otherwise unprofitable without compromising safety and quality standards.

It is also likely that automation and unmanned operations will be further developed in the future to address OPEX challenges. In addition, operational and maintenance are currently being studied and implemented.

Finally, a few new market segments are coming along, specifically those linked to the usage diversification of LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas). New regulations imposing significant reductions of CO2 and NOx emissions for maritime transportation are opening new opportunities to LNG by replacing conventional HFO (Heavy Fuel Oil) and maritime diesel. New infrastructure and value chains are being developed to allow this conversion providing new applications to loading systems manufacturers.

Q:At last, how is TechnipFMC getting prepared to these challenges that the future post?

TechnipFMC has reduced costs through improved execution and standardization. Always thinking about the future, TechnipFMC’s Loading Systems division maintained the same level of investment in R&D over the last few years to provide the industry with breakthrough technologies such as a full electric loading arm that replaces the conventional hydraulically-powered one and significantly reduces OPEX to provide our clients with greener offloading solutions.

Services is also an area of focus: reducing inspection and maintenance cost by using drones is, for instance, one of the new services offered by TechnipFMC. A new strategy on spare parts management has also been implemented to provide our clients with critical spare parts in a shorter delivery time.

Finally, the recent merger opens doors to the flexible hose technology through Coflexip™. The adoption of flexible solutions is expanding within offloading applications and make TechnipFMC the sole loading systems manufacturer with the ability to provide both rigid articulated pipe and flexible hose solutions.

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ARA oil product stocks rise by 10pc on the week

Gepubliceerd Jacob on 7 september 2018 14:47:36

London, 6 September (Argus) — Oil products held in independent storage tanks in the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp (ARA) trading hub rose by 10.1pc this week to 5.67mn t, with stock builds for all recorded products.

Fuel oil inventories recorded the sharpest rise, increasing by 22.8pc to 1.26mn t. Tankers arrived in the ARA area from Latvia, Russia and the US and departed for Denmark and the UK. Departures of fuel oil-laden VLCCs for Singapore customarily offers the single biggest outlet for stored fuel oil volumes, but no such loadings took place in the week to today and none are scheduled. Fuel oil stocks in Singapore recently hit a six-week high, impacting demand for European volumes.

Gasoline stocks rose by 14.9pc on the week to 870,000t, rebounding after reaching a 21-month low the previous week. Production of winter-grade gasoline continued apace, bolstering demand for storage tank space. Low Rhine water levels continued to affect the market, with gasoline demand from inland buyers pulling increasing volumes up river. Inland gasoline production has suffered in recent weeks from refinery outages and high blending component prices resulting from high barge freight rates. Interest in European gasoline was firm from the US. Tankers arrived in the area from France, Italy, Portugal, Russia and the UK. Tankers departed the region for Argentina, Latin America, the US and west Africa.

Naphtha stocks rose by 5.2pc to 264,000t, after falling heavily during the two prior weeks. Tankers arrived from Algeria, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Spain and the UK. None were recorded leaving the area, amid firm demand from gasoline blenders as well as petrochemical end users.

Independent ARA stocks of gasoil rose by 4.1pc on the week to 2.54mn t. Diesel remained the key demand driver for middle distillates, with heating oil buyers continuing to await falls in barge freight rates. Tankers arrived from Russia, the US, India and Saudi Arabia.

Jet fuel stocks rose by 8.4pc to 734,000t, a 42-week high. Inflows have remained at high levels despite the end of the peak demand season. But the rise in inventories was also bolstered by delays in the unloading of vessels arriving during the prior week. Tankers arrived from the Mideast Gulf, India and the Mediterranean and one left for the UK.

Reporter: Thomas Warner

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Importance of Tank Terminals in Tanker Shipping

Gepubliceerd Jacob on 22 augustus 2018 14:47:03

Businesses and traders of bulk liquid cargoes and gasses select ports because of their location, maritime access, hinterland connectivity, value-added services, economies of scale, and the availability of independent tank terminals.

Tanker owners prefer to sail to ports with high throughput volumes, fast turnarounds and low demurrage risks. The availability of tankers is a critical factor in the success of ports.

Ship Owners also look at reducing costs through vessel design, slow steaming between locations and reducing time spent in ports by optimizing loading and discharging.

The ship-shore interface involves tankers loading and discharging at regularly visited shore terminals, but with spot activity, vessels also need to call at many terminals they are not familiar with. This comes together with an increased risk for tanker owners. Similarly, each tank terminal now handles more tankers of different types and sizes than ever before.

The above indicates that the relation and coordination between vessel owners and tank terminals could be of great importance and a clear game changer. Better cooperation will not only help optimize operations and reduce cost but also support better risk management.

The importance of tank terminals in what-if scenarios

A tanker owner may need to discharge a cargo due to an emergency or because missing a loading or discharge window. In the chemical trade, for example, there is an agreed laycan or in other words an agreed loading time range at the end of which comes the time when the charterers are entitled to exercise their option and cancel the charter party for non-arrival of the owners’ vessel.

Being stuck in a port or being cancelled by the charterer has an impact on not just the current voyage, but all future voyages and fleet planning. This can have a huge negative impact on the owners’ financial performance.

So, in case of an emergency, delay or cancellation, good relations and communications between tanker owners and tank terminals may help mitigate risks. Finding a tank terminal to discharge cargoes during an accident or hazard may also be required from time to time.

New Opportunities

Tank terminal projects are very good market indicators since projects are often announced early and set the stage for future product flows. Bulk liquid terminals play an important role when trading centers are shifting and new hubs are being developed.

Demand and production swings are taking place all the time resulting in shifts between long and short haul shipments. Short haul shipments tend to have smaller volumes and therefore require smaller vessels. Such changes have an impact on loading and discharge operations at tank terminals, including jetty capabilities and tank sizes.

As Owners are looking for economies of scale, ships are however getting bigger and ship owners need to make sure that tank terminals can handle such larger vessels and large quantities of cargo. A good example is the Bow Pioneer, the largest IMO II chemical tanker with a deadweight of 75000, measuring 288 meters long and 37 meters wide. The use of larger tankers in any market segment may result in the development of more hub terminals to receive larger vessels and support regional distribution and transshipment activity.

Tank terminals may also be an interesting investment opportunity for ship owners to diversify and create a more balanced business portfolio. While freight rate and volume levels may be low during an economic downturn, inventories at terminals may be high during such times. Some storage contracts are negotiated on a take or pay basis which means the client pays even if they don’t use the tank. This provides a level of guaranteed income. And if not invest, why not develop a strategic tank terminal tanker owner alliance for a specific project.

We hope this article is providing some food for thought, so why not read your free Infographic now to learn more about the benefits of TankTerminals.com’s database platform for tanker owners and ship brokers. Download here.

For any questions contact us at: greta.talmaci@tankterminals.com

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