July 9, 2019 / 4:59 AM / 2 months ago

Gasoline profit-margins jump over 150% in Asia, but surge may not last

* Gasoline profit-margins touch 9-week high of $6.68 a barrel

* That is more than double $3 average in June

* Comes amid output cuts, refinery maintenance

* But flood of new supply set to hit markets in coming weeks

By Seng Li Peng

SINGAPORE, July 9 (Reuters) - Profits from producing gasoline have surged over 150% in Asia from June due to output cuts and refinery maintenance, industry sources said this week, but that may not last as a flood of new supply is expected to hit markets

Asian profits on refining Brent crude into petrol, known as the gasoline crack, touched a 9-week high of $6.68 a barrel on Monday, up from an average of below $3 in June. GL92-SIN-CRK

That comes as Formosa Petrochemical Corp, one of Asia’s 10 largest refineries, trims its gasoline output in July.

Elsewhere, China’s Shandong Dongming Petrochemical Group will this week shut the biggest independent refinery in the Chinese province of Shandong for two months, two sources have said.

China’s Sinopec is planning to curb runs at two of its coastal refineries, plant sources have said.

In India, gasoline and alkylate exports for June were less than half volumes seen in May in the wake of refinery maintenance, according to a monthly report by Refinitiv Oil Research.

Those supply reductions coincide with the permanent closure of U.S. Philadelphia Energy Solutions’ (PES) refinery, although Formosa spokesman KY Lin said the shutdown had more impact in European markets than in Asia.

Lin added that Formosa would keep its refinery throughput in July at 90 percent of capacity amid uncertainty over market fundamentals.

The industry sources said that China was set to boost its fuel exports as Hengli Petrochemical’s 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) refinery reached full capacity in May, while Zhejiang Petrochemical Corp’s similar-sized refinery had started trial runs around the same time.

China’s June exports were already seen at up to 1.6 million tonnes, said the same monthly report by Refinitiv Oil Research. That compares to official May volumes at 850,000 tonnes.

Meanwhile, a new refinery in Malaysia, owned by Petroliam Nasional Berhad and Saudi Aramco, is expected to come online this year.

That and the two massive refineries in China are alone expected to add some 235,000 bpd of gasoline to the market.

“It will be very difficult for higher gasoline cracks to be sustained in Singapore as we move through the third quarter,” said Michael Dei-Michei, head of research at consulting firm JBC Energy.

Reporting by Seng Li Peng; Editing by Joseph Radford

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