Product Export Quotas Suggest Lower Gasoline and Diesel Exports

China’s September crude imports remained unchanged from August at 9 million b/d. In the fourth quarter, ESAI Energy estimates that China’s throughput could boost crude imports by at least 150,000 b/d, based on analysis of refining capacity increases, maintenance, and seasonal utilization. Meanwhile, China’s new product export quotas suggest that gasoline and diesel exports between September and December would both fall by 60,000 b/d, compared to January-August levels.

U.S. Unlikely to Take Significant Action Against Saudi Arabia

The presumed execution of Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Turkey has seriously rattled U.S.- Saudi relations and led to the discussion of sanctions in the U.S. Congress. Even so, the complex relationship between the two countries, and especially the joint effort to contain and weaken Iran, tilt against a significant economic response from the Trump Administration.

E-15 Impact Limited Near-Term

The E.P.A. will begin the process of allowing sales of E-15 gasoline year-round. Although the waiver will increase ethanol more significantly in the long term, short term demand impacts will be limited by investment requirements and consumer preferences. As a result, ESAI Energy forecasts a high of just 60,000 b/d of additional E-15 sales by 2020, or just 10,000 b/d of additional ethanol blending.

Modest Middle Distillate Growth Despite Mega Refining Projects

From the end of 2018 to early 2019, three refining projects will start operations, adding total crude distillation capacity of 900,000 b/d. ESAI Energy estimates that the resulting increase in refined product output in 2019 will be 140,000 b/d for gasoline, 30,000 b/d for diesel, and 80,000 b/d for jet. This relatively modest growth is due to the petrochemical focus of the new projects as well as lower utilization rates of some other refiners facing tough competition.

Weak Currencies, Trade Tensions to Dent Demand Growth

Increasing subsidies will not fully offset higher fuel prices in most Asian countries in 2019, and weaker currencies and slower economic growth will not help. Transportation fuel demand growth outside of China will decelerate to 300,000 b/d in 2019, after growing by 340,000 b/d in 2018. In China, demand will return to modest growth next year after collapsing in 2018.

China’s Naval Power Grows

Over the last several years we have written about the growing imbalance between U.S. and Chinese dependence on the Persian Gulf for oil. Chinese oil demand growth and U.S. oil supply growth have shifted the importance of the region for both importers. A significant and lengthy disruption in the Persian Gulf could still impact all oil consumers through the price mechanism, but the U.S. economy is now far more insulated from energy disruptions than the Chinese economy. Not surprisingly, China’s naval capabilities have grown considerably to address this vulnerability to the flow of oil and other goods

Slowing Gasoline Demand, Lower Imports

Three of Africa’s biggest OPEC producing countries – Nigeria, Angola, and Libya – will increase their productive capacity by 500,000 b/d in the next six to twelve months. But we expect violence, strikes, and natural decline rates to limit total actual production increases from these three countries to only 75,000 b/d in 2019. Africa’s total production should increase by 150,000 b/d next year to 7.4 million b/d.

Big Capacity Increases, Small Production Gains

Three of Africa’s biggest OPEC producing countries – Nigeria, Angola, and Libya – will increase their productive capacity by 500,000 b/d in the next six to twelve months. But we expect violence, strikes, and natural decline rates to limit total actual production increases from these three countries to only 75,000 b/d in 2019. Africa’s total production should increase by 150,000 b/d next year to 7.4 million b/d.

Mexico Fighting to Stay Put

Mexico’s incoming administration says it will increase Mexico’s crude production by 600,000 b/d in two years to reach 2.5 million b/d by 2021. We see gains this size as out of reach in such a short time frame. Instead, we assess that a $4 billion shot in the arm will help Pemex reverse declines and boost production by closer to 20,000 b/d next year, to 1.88 million b/d, and then by perhaps 100,000 b/d in 2020.