Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil exporter Saudi Arabia’s state oil firm is expected to import higher-than-usual volumes of gasoline and gasoil to plug a supply shortage caused by refinery maintenance and firming demand ahead of summer season, traders said on Wednesday.
The refiner has been aggressively seeking gasoil and gasoline in the spot market after having already bought 20 per cent more gasoil for March. Its gasoil imports for April are expected to be even higher than March, traders added.
As for gasoline, traders are expecting the volumes to be between six and nine cargoes for April alone.
“That’s quite a huge amount for gasoline for a month,” said a trader.
Traders said Saudi Aramco could be stockpiling on gasoline ahead of Ramadan to avoid being caught in short supplies as experienced last year.
Its Ras Tanura refinery, which is the Middle East’s largest with a crude processing capacity of 550,000 barrels per day (bpd), has shut several units including a crude unit in March for a planned maintenance. This came at a time demand for gasoil usually peaks in summer in the Middle East as the product is used for power generation purposes.