In Japan, total commercial oil stocks fell slightly by 0.6 mb in March, following a drop of 7.8 mb in February. At 147.5 mb, Japanese oil inventories were 20.6 mb or 12% below what they were a year ago and 19.2 mb or 11.5% lower than the five-year average. Within the components, crude stocks rose by 1.4 mb, while products fell by 2.0 mb.
Japanese commercial crude oil stocks rose in March, reversing the previous month’s slight stock-draw to stand at 90.2 mb. At this level, they were 8.5 mb below a year ago at the same time and remained 8.9 mb below the five-year average. The stock-draw in crude oil was driven by lower crude runs, which fell by around 122 tb/d or 3.1% to average nearly 3.8 mb/d. At this level, they were 0.6% higher than the previous year at the same time. Japanese refiners were running at 82.6% of capacity in March, around 2.5 pp lower than in the previous month, but 1.7 pp more than in the same period a year ago. Lower crude oil imports limited a further build in crude oil stocks. Indeed, crude oil imports fell by 123 tb/d or 3.1% to average 3.8 mb/d. At this level, they were 8.1% less than in the same period last year. Direct crude burning in domestic power plants declined by nearly 33% in March, compared with the previous month, averaging 189 tb/d, but showing an increase of 2.3% over the same period a year ago.
Japan’s total product inventories fell by 2.0 mb in March, for the second consecutive month. At this level, product stocks showed a deficit of 12.1 mb or 17.4% compared with a year ago at the same time and remained below the five-year average by a deficit of 10.4 mb or 15.3%. Lower refinery throughput, combined with reduced product imports, contributed to the drop in product inventories. Within products, the picture was mixed; gasoline and distillates went down, while residual fuel oil and naphtha witnessed a stock-build.
Gasoline stocks fell by 1.2 mb in March, reversing the build of the previous two months to stand at 11.7 mb, which was 2.2 mb or 15.6% less than the same time the previous year and 2.2 mb or 15.7% below the five-year average. A rise of 25.7% in domestic sales, combined with an increase of 6.7% in exports, was behind the stockdraw.
Distillate stocks fell by 4.4 mb in March for the seventh consecutive month to finish at 21.2 mb, which was 7.0 mb or 25.0% below the same period a year ago and 5.4 mb or 20.4% lower than the seasonal average. All distillate components experienced a drop in March. Jet fuel inventories fell by 4.9% on the back of stronger domestic sales, which almost doubled in March, when compared with the previous month. Kerosene stocks fell by 10%, driven by lower production, combined with reduced exports. Gasoil inventories went down by 25% on the back of an increase of 25% in domestic sales. Total residual fuel oil stocks rose by 1.9 mb to end the month of March at 14.7 mb, which was 1.7 mb or 10.5% lower than a year ago and 1.2 mb or 7.8% below the fiveyear average. Within the fuel oil components, fuel oil A stocks rose by 5.1%, and fuel oil B.C stocks increased by 21%. The build in residual oil could be attributed to lower domestic sales, combined with higher output.
Naphtha stocks rose by 1.7 mb, finishing the month of March at 9.7mb, indicating a deficit of 1.2 mb or 10.8% with a year ago and 1.5 mb or 13.6% below the seasonal norm. The stock-build came from lower domestic sales, which declined by nearly 9%.