Oil and Gas
Added Jul 29, 2021

Latam emerges as key driver for road fuel strength

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Latam imports of gasoline & diesel are on track to hit a multi-year high of 1.93 mn b/d in July.  We see the growing appetite in Latam for road transportation fuels as a demand-driven pull, with gasoline and diesel volumes arriving from as far away as the Middle East and India to fulfill hefty import requirements.

latam bar chart

See data in platform - East Coast 

See data in platform - West Coast

Demand is back in the driving seat

A combination of post-COVID demand and low refinery utilisation rates has pushed Mexico to top importer, taking in over 30% of diesel and gasoline exports from the United States since January, with levels swinging from 400,000 b/d in February to 650,000 b/d in June. However, the demand story does not stop there as Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Argentina, Colombia all posted import increases to the extent of reaching a combined data set high for July in the Vortexa platform.

The great resupply 

Although the Atlantic Basin is by far the largest exporter of road transportation fuels to Latam, PADD 3 suffered unforeseen outages at the beginning of the year which gave a window of opportunity to Asia suppliers to export into Latam. 

Gasoline and diesel exports from East of Suez to Latam surged in March going from 30,000 b/d in February to a peak of 150,000 b/d in April. These volumes were supported by increased volumes of STS operations off the coast of West Africa where VLCCs transfer gasoline and diesel to smaller vessels heading towards Latam. The majority of these cargoes are destined to Brazil while the remainder are heading to Argentina, with peak consumption levels in the agricultural industry playing a crucial role.   

bar line graph showing latam imports of gasoline and diesel

See data in platform - Asia and Middle East imports

See data in platform - STS

Impact on freight

Despite higher volumes of clean products headed towards Latam over July, MR tanker US Gulf - Latam remained relatively unchanged, as a fair chunk of the inflow was supplied from West Africa. At the same time, the increasing MR tanker availability in the US Gulf region suppressed any upside potential for US Gulf - Latam freight rates.

latam bar chart with line

See data in platform

As US refineries take back market share, we would expect to see Asia flows squeezed out and these long haul volumes dry up. And as regional demand in Asia returns, the likelihood is that gasoline and diesel will remain in the region thus attracting MR tankers from West to East of Suez. As a result, this will alleviate the MR tonnage supply from the US Gulf region, possibly triggering higher trans-American rates.

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