Transport Fuel Demand to Grow Through 2019

In 2018 and 2019, European transport fuel demand growth will slow to an annual average of roughly 160,000 b/d. This slowdown is driven by a deceleration in diesel and jet fuel demand growth, particularly in Germany, where for the first time in a decade diesel demand will contract. Nevertheless, with demand for all three major transport fuels continuing to rise through 2019, and regional refinery throughput expected to slow, Europe’s distillate deficit will expand and gasoline surplus will narrow. These developments will be bullish for global product markets.

New Refining Subsidies Take Shape

Progress on Russia’s oil tax reform hints at its likely impact on the future of refining. Most but not all refineries will be subsidized. Distillation capacity will level off after a prolonged period of expansion. Lastly, the new system will eliminate the incentive for investment in fuel oil destruction. However, the consequences for investment will be offset by market incentives stemming from new IMO regulations.

Tail Wagging Russian Production

The 250,000 b/d increase in Russian production from May to July eclipses the growth hinted at by the Russian Energy Ministry. The opportunity to replace Iranian barrels undoubtedly is encouraging higher Russian output. In response, we now estimate annual Russian growth of 130,000 b/d in 2018 and 210,000 b/d in 2019. However, President Putin will eventually establish a new temporary production ceiling and resume coordination of production in the OPEC+ format.

North Africa Fuel Reforms Stall Growth

Subsidy reform in Egypt means that despite a growing economy, higher prices will leave gasoline demand flat this year, at 170,000 b/d. With no other large engine of growth in the region, North Africa’s total gasoline demand will also remain flat this year, at 400,000 b/d. Meanwhile, a modest increase in supply means the region’s import requirement will shrink slightly to 210,000 b/d.