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Sohar Refinery S/D RFCC – dumps HFO Asia mkt

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    Sohar plant leakage lifts Asian reforming margin

    April 6, 2008, SINGAPORE: An anticipated month-long leakage crisis at Oman Sohar refinery’s residual fluid catalytic cracker (RFCC) has lifted Asia gasoline’s reforming margin by over $2 a barrel, and could see some 200,000 tonnes of residual fuel flowing into the market, industry sources said yesterday.
    The 75,200 barrels per day (bpd) gasoline-making RFCC had been partially shut down on Thursday due to a leakage, a company source said yesterday.
    “There was a catalyst leak due to high temperatures. We are monitoring the situation now. It’s a partial shutdown,” the company source said.
    The company had yet to confirm the duration of the unplanned shutdown, but traders said players were already anticipating a tightening of the Gulf gasoline market.
    “The 75,000 bpd RFCC is not huge, but it’s not small either,” said a Singapore-based trader, referring to the heightened gasoline market activity in Asia yesterday.
    Five trades were done in Asia’s gasoline cash market, up from just one deal seen on average for the rest of the week.
    The reforming margin, or the premium a barrel of 92-octane grade fetches over Asian naphtha prices, shot up more than $2 a barrel to a firm $14.33, near the high of almost $15 touched last week.
    This came days after the gasoline-naphtha differential also surged by about the same amount, when PetroChina booked a record 100,000 tonnes of gasoline for import thi month.
    Another trader expected the refiner, whose Sohar facility has a crude processing capacity of about 116,400 bpd, to issue tenders to buy gasoline within the next few days.
    “Anyone could win the tenders, but if they get the gasoline from Singapore, it may create a slight tightness in the market,” he said.
    The Asian gasoline market have been tightened in recent weeks, as China, usually an exporter of the motor fuel, was importing a record volume for this month. The shutdown of the RFCC will likely yield more than 200,000 tonnes of residual fuel oil, traders said.
    “This is based on a rough estimation of the refinery throughput, but the refinery should be offering fuel oil into the spot market if the shutdown is going to last up to a month,” a Singapore-based trader said.
    Traders said the residual refinery feedstock could possibly be used for blending, something which the Asian fuel oil market is in desperate need for.
    “The situation here is, there is a lot of off-specification oil, but very little quality product around, so the availability of possible blending components has got the market a little excited,” a trader said.
    Singapore’s fuel oil market has been awashed with high viscosity and high density Western arbitrage materials, with more than three million tonnes having arriving in the region last month.

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