Increased trade between US and Mexico helps MR2s

Apr 13 2018

The Caribbean refining sector remains under pressure with recent market reports indicating that usage declines have exceeded the typical seasonal drop for this period.

JBC Energy estimated that Mexican refinery utilisation dipped to a low of 33% in February, from a high of 65% in July 2017, amid lower crude throughputs at six Pemex refineries, McQuilling Services said in a blog. 

Levels at these refineries averaged less than 550,000 barrels per day in February, down about 385,000 barrels per day versus the same period in 2017, when utilisation was around 51% of capacity. Even though the Madero and Minatitlan refineries returned on stream late February, the Santa Cruz and Tula refineries have struggled to ramp up intake.

JBC Energy has since lowered its expectations for growth in this sector, previously forecasting Mexico’s refinery intake to average 750,000 barrels per day through the first half of this year and now revising this figure down to 630,000 barrels per day, leading to a projected 11% decline year-on-year for all of 2018.

Gasoline production plummeted 140,000 barrels per day year-on-year, to average 165,000 barrels per day in February stimulating more import activity to meet regional demand.

The US has stepped in to meet these requirements with activity along the USG/ECM route surging since the end of 2017. Using McQuilling’s proprietary fixture database, an average of 56 MR2 voyages per month along this route were counted, through the first quarter of 2018, which compares to 32 over the same period of 2016. 

McQuilling also witnessed more trading from the US West Coast to the West Coast of Mexico in comparison to last year. Taking a look at the weekly estimates for MR2 positions in the US Gulf, a 2.7% decline was noted in average number of positions over the first quarter of this year versus last, which may be a symptom of increased trading activity between the US and Mexico. 

The USG/Caribbean (Pozos) MR2 trade route has averaged around $460,000 lumpsum through the first three months of the year, a 4.5% rise from the same period of 2017 and it is expected that this trade to find further support through the second half of the year in concert with the overall rebalancing of the clean tanker market, McQuilling concluded.


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