LONDON, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Gasoline barges in northwest
Europe continued to trade at firm outright prices on Thursday
and refining margins strengthened, but existing support from
overseas markets in the United States and West Africa is
expected to wane.
Gasoline stocks at the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp hub fell
to 740,000 tonnes from 843,000 tonnes week-on-week, data from
Dutch oil analyst Pieter Kulsen showed.
He said that at least two cargoes departed for the United
States during the week but gasoline shipments to the U.S. East
Coast are seen easing after Wednesday's Energy Information
Administration data showed a regional stocks build.
'Gasoline deliveries may have been enhanced by pre-snowstorm
purchases and it is possible that next week's implied demand
data may be dampened by snow-related difficulties in the
distribution of gasoline from refineries and terminals,' said
analysts at BNP Paribas.
Over in the naphtha market, prices have been rising steadily
since mid-January when the flat price came off hard. 'Market
fundamentals are reasserting themselves after a trader-driven
drop in January,' one market participant said.
Naphtha is being supported by good demand from Asia, where
regional refineries are scheduling heavy maintenance for March
'Everything from the Mediterranean will be going East for
March loading,' a broker said. 'There is also some suggestion
that cargoes in northwest Europe might go east.'
There has also been plenty of demand for naphtha from
blenders making gasoline for the West African market. Gasoline
cargoes have been departing to Togo, Guinea, Nigeria and Senegal
over the last few weeks, Kulsen's data showed.
'A lot has traded for January and February delivery,' said
one gasoline broker. 'It has slowed down a bit this week.'
One trader thought the naphtha price was now beginning to
look a bit toppy. 'South Korea is paying record premiums, so I
think it is all a bit agenda driven,' he said.
* One barge of benchmark Eurobob traded in the window at
$1,092 a tonne fob ARA. Chevron sold the barge to Cargill.
* The March swap was trading at around $1,095 a tonne at the
close, putting Eurobob barges at a $3 a tonne discount.
* Some 8,000 tonnes traded ahead of the window at
$1,086-$1,090 a tonne fob ARA, up from $1,082-$1,084 a tonne on
* Trafigura was the biggest buyer, but Total also picked up
3,000 tonnes. BP and Chevron were on the sell side.
* Two barges also changed hands after the window, at
$1,097-$1,098. BP sold both the barges to Gunvor.
* Some 8,000 tonnes of premium unleaded gasoline traded at
$1,114-$1,119 a tonne fob ARA, up from $1,110-$1,111 on
* Chevron, NIC and Trafigura were on the sell side while
Total and Glencore were buyers.
* At 1653 GMT, Brent crude oil futures were up 7
cents at $117.95 a barrel.
* Eurobob's crack to dated Brent was up at around
$12.04 a barrel, from around $8.93 a barrel on Wednesday.
* February U.S. RBOB gasoline futures were up 2
percent at $3.0960 a gallon.
* RBOB's crack to U.S. crude oil futures was up
at $32.54 a barrel, from $29.81 on Wednesday.
* Vitol sold a cargo to Gunvor at $1,005 a tonne cif NWE, up
from Wednesday's trade at $1,003. The cargo is expected to load
* The prompt naphtha crack strengthened to minus $5.02 a
barrel from around minus $6.24 on Wednesday.
(Reporting by Claire Milhench; editing by Jason Neely)
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