JAKARTA/SINGAPORE – INDONESIA’S state-run Pertamina has shut an 83,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) gasoline-making unit at its Balongan refinery for five days since Sunday, a company source said on Monday. The source said the unit was shut ‘to perform checks’. Traders said the latest glitch at the 125,000-bpd refinery has been brewing since last week. Industry sources said that an air blower at the RFCC had suffered a malfunction, forcing Pertamina to shut it down. The outage at one of Asia’s biggest Residual Fluid Catalytic Cracking Unit (RFCC) has pushed the gasoline cracks to a four-month high at US$7.05 (S$9.78) a barrel premium on Monday, the highest since Sept 9. ‘They have not issued any spot tenders yet, but I expect it to be soon,’ said a trader. Pertamina, Asia’s top gasoline importer, had about a week ago resumed its spot gasoline purchase after an import pause that lasted more than four months. Its term contracts have been meeting its monthly needs, supplying at least 5 million barrels of gasoline a month.
But Pertamina had to buy up to 1.2 million barrels of the auto fuel from the spot market for January delivery after the Balongan RFCC was shut for four days in mid-December, also due to technical problems. The problem-ridden gasoline-making unit located at the refinery in western Java had at least three outages last year, lasting for brief periods. — REUTERS