In May, total commercial oil stocks in Japan remained unchanged following a build during last two months and ended the month at 169.4 mb. As this level, they are 7.6 mb or 4.3% below a year ago at the same period, and they stood at 8.7 mb or 4.9% lower than the last five-year average. Within the components, crude saw a build of 2.3 mb in May, while products fell by almost the same amount.
Japanese commercial crude oil stocks saw a build of 2.3 mb in May for the third consecutive month to stand at 101.4 mb. Despite this build, they are still 6.1 mb or 5.7% below a year ago at the same time and 3.2 mb or 3.0% below the five-year average. The build in crude oil stocks in May was driven by lower crude throughputs.
Indeed, crude inputs to refinery declined by 386,000 b/d to average 3.1 mb/d. In May, Japanís refineries were running at 69%, around 8.6 pp lower than in the previous month and 1.4 pp less than the same period last year. The decline in crude imports, which fell by around 309,000 b/d or 8.4%, averaging 3.4 mb/d, limited a further buld in stocks. At this level, they are also 5.4% lower than May 2012 Direct crude burning in power plants rose in April by 21.0% to end the month of May at around 235,507 b/d, but this is almost 24% less than the same period last year.
On the product side, Japanís total product inventories saw a drop of 2.3 mb, reversing the build of last month and ended May at 68.0 mb. At this level, they indicated a deficit of 1.5 mb or 2.1% with a year ago and they are 5.6 mb or 7.6% lower than the five-year average. The decline of 6.2% in refinery output in May was behind the decline in product stocks, however, lower Japanese total oil product sales, which fell by 6.6% from a month earlier to average of 3.1 mb/d, limited a further drop in product stocks. Within products, the picture was mixed: distillates and residual fuel oil saw a decrease, while naphtha witnessed builds. Gasoline stocks remained unchanged in May from the previous month.
Distillate stocks fell by 2.1 mb, ending the month of May at 27.5 mb. At this level, they are 2.3 mb or 7.6% below a year ago and 3.0 mb or 9.9% above the seasonal average. Within distillate components, jet fuel oil and gasoil stocks fell, while kerosene stocks went up. Kerosene inventories rose by 1.9% driven by lower domestic sales, which declined by almost 30%, while lower output limited a further build in kerosene stocks. Jet fuel fell by 12% on the back of lower production. Gasoil stocks also fell by 12.2%, reflecting lower output, which declined by 1.4%. Higher domestic sales also contributed to the drop in gasoil inventories.
In contrast, naphtha stocks rose by 0.6 mb to finish May at 11.0 mb. At this level, they represent a surplus of 2.2 mb or 24.8% over a year ago, and 0.3 mb or 3.2% above the seasonal norm. The build in naphtha stocks came from lower domestic sales as they declined by 5.7%. The increase of 16% in imports also contributed to this build. Total residual fuel oil stocks went down by 0.8 mb to end the month of May at 15.3 mb. At this level, they were 9.2% less than a year ago and 14.6% lower than the five-year average. Fuel oil A inventories fell by 10.2%, while fuel oil B.C fell by 8.6%. The fall in the two components of fuel oil stocks came on the back of lower outputs.
Gasoline stocks remained unchanged in May, ending the month at 14.3 mb. At this level, they are 1.0% above the same time last year, but they are still 2.0% less than the five-year average. Higher production was offset by increasing domestic sales, leading to an unchanged stock level in May versus April.