Reality Check for Global NGL Demand

OilVoice:
Global investment in ethane crackers and other olefins units will lead to overcapacity and intensifying inter-fuel competition in the NGL and naphtha markets, according to ESAI Energy’s newly published Global NGL Five Year Outlook. As ESAI Energy describes, announced projects include a potential 58 million tons of ethylene capacity, far more than global ethylene demand can plausibly grow. However, a closer look at what will pan out leads to the unmistakable conclusion that feedstock demand growth and pricing will be less bullish than many believe.

Venezuela Shrinks Latin America’s Surplus

In 2019, Latin America’s regional crude surplus should average 3.4 million b/d, down 400,000 b/d from 3.8 million b/d in 2017. Over the two years, production will fall by 380,000 b/d, led by the collapse in Venezuela. Meanwhile, regional refinery throughput will rise by 20,000 b/d. Free of the weight of Venezuela, the non-OPEC Latin America balance would rise by 250,000 b/d in the same period.

Saudi Diesel Exports to Rise

The Middle East’s exportable surplus of diesel will grow by 90,000 b/d in the second half of 2018 to reach 490,000 b/d, with Europe absorbing most of the increase. New refining capacity in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait will boost the region’s surplus further in the first half of 2019, but stagnating import needs in Europe in that period could lead to an oversupply, putting pressure on diesel spreads to crude.

Sverdrup to Lead North Sea Recovery

After falling for the second straight year to 2.6 million b/d in 2018, North Sea crude and condensate production will plateau in 2019 before rising sharply in 2020 as a result of the start-up of Equinor’s Johan Sverdrup mega-project. Led by Norway, North Sea output will continue to grow at an average annual rate of 70,000 b/d from 2020 to 2023, when it will reach 2.9 million b/d.

No Change on Sanctions on Iranian Importers

Following a week during which President Trump met with most of the signatories to the JCPOA, there appears to have been no movement on a concerted approach to Iran that would replace the JCPOA. Moreover, despite somewhat contradictory reporting, the Trump Administration continues to indicate that waivers on sanctions would be limited at best. The loss of Iranian exports continues to look inevitable. This is consistent with the President’s urging of producers to increase output and the discussion of an SPR release.

Distillate Imports to Surge in Second Half of 2018

Despite a growing deficit, in the first half of 2018 European distillate imports remained flat year-on-year at roughly 1.6 million b/d. With regional distillate inventories depleted and the distillate deficit slated to keep expanding, European distillate imports will rise by about 240,000 b/d in the second half of this year and provide bullish support for global markets.

AMLO Price-Freeze Supports Gasoline Demand

President-elect Lopez Obrador’s promise to freeze gasoline prices will support gasoline demand, which is on track to grow by 15,000 b/d this year. An increase in refinery throughput will more than offset the impact on Mexico’s imports though. We expect a modest increase in utilization rates in the second half of the year, increasing gasoline supply by 60,000 b/d compared to the first half of 2018 and reducing Mexico’s import requirement by 40,000 b/d.

OPEC’s New Swing Producer?

Between capacity at new fields and production cuts at mature fields, Russian producers have more than 500,000 b/d of spare capacity, much more than is needed to increase production by the 200,000 b/d implicit
in its latest agreement with Saudi Arabia. If Russia and the Saudis decide to further relax production limits, Russian oil producers will be ready and willing to expand output further.

Is Market Ready for Mariner East 2?

OilVoice:
Any delay to the Mariner East 2 project would impact LPG markets from Applachia to Asia, according to ESAI Energy’s analysis of the Mariner East expansion’s impact on U.S. NGL exports. In contrast, ethane exports are emerging much more slowly, according to ESAI Energy’s newly released Global NGL Outlook.