In April, total commercial oil stocks in Japan rose by 1.3 mb following a 12.2 mb drop in March and ending the month at 169.4 mb. As this level, they are 3.3 mb, or 1.9%, below the same period a year ago, and are 3.7 mb, or 2.1%, higher than the last fiveyear average. Both crude and products saw a build as they increased by 0.5 mb and 0.8 mb, respectively.
Japanese commercial crude oil stocks saw a build of 0.5 mb in April for the second consecutive month to stand at 99.1 mb. Despite this build, they are still 4.4 mb below a year ago at the same time and 2.8 mb below the five-year average.
The build in crude oil stocks was driven by the decline in crude throughput, which fell by around 106,000 b/d, or 3.0%, averaging 3.5 mb/d. At this level, they are 1.6% lower than levels in April 2012. Japan’s refiners were running at 77.6%, around 2.4 pp lower than in the previous month and 1.2 pp less than the same period last year. Lower crude oil imports limited a further build in crude oil stocks. In fact, crude oil imports decreased by around 480,000 b/d, or 11.4%, in April from the previous month, to average 3.7 mb/d. At this level, they are 6.2% below the same time a year ago. Direct crude burning in power plants rose by 5.1% to end April at around 194,560 b/d, but is down by almost 40% from the same period last year.
On the product side, Japan’s total product inventories saw a build of 0.8 mb, reversing the fall of last month and ending April at 70.3 mb. At this level, they indicated a surplus of 1.1 mb, or 1.6%, over a year ago, but they are still 0.9 mb, or 1.2%, lower than the five-year average. The decline of 10.3% in Japanese oil product sales was behind the increase in product stocks. However, the fall of 5.1% in refinery output from a month earlier, limited a further build. Within products, the picture was mixed, with gasoline and distillates seeing an increase, while naphtha and residual fuel oil stocks witnessed draws.
Distillate stocks also rose by 1.4 mb, ending the month of April at 29.6 mb, which is the highest level since November 2012. At this level, they are 2.3 mb, or 8.6%, higher than a year ago and 1.9 mb, or 7.0%, above the seasonal average.
Within distillate components, all the products went up, with gasoil rising the most by 16.3%. This build was driven by higher output, which increased by 2.7%, combined with a decline of 10% in gasoil demand. Kerosene stocks also rose by 0.7%, reflecting lower domestic sales which fell by more than 30%. Jet fuel oil rose by 10% on the back of higher production, which increased by 13%. The fall of 12% in demand also contributed to the build in jet fuel inventories.
In contrast, naphtha stocks fell by 0.5 mb to finish April at 10.4 mb. At this level, they show a deficit of 0.6 mb, or 5.1%, with a year ago, and 1.1 mb, or 9.5%, below the seasonal norm. The 6.6% drop in naphtha stocks came from lower production. The fall of 12% in imports also contributed to this drop; however, lower domestic sales limited a further build. Total residual fuel oil stocks went down by 0.3 mb to end the month at 16.1 mb. At this level, they were 1.4% less than a year ago and 8.2% lower than the five-year average. Fuel oil A inventories fell by 6.7%, while fuel oil B.C fell by 4.0%. The fall in the two components of fuel oil stocks came on the back of lower output of around 20%.