Europe Gasoline/Naphtha-Steady, overseas demand awaited
LONDON, July 26 (Reuters) - Gasoline barge prices in northwest Europe held steady on Friday in a lacklustre market, with traders looking for a pick-up in demand from overseas given the weak state of the domestic market. European oil demand fell further in the first half of 2013 despite glimmers of economic recovery, as modest German growth could not offset steep consumption declines in France, Italy and Spain, according to data compiled by Reuters. A sharp decline in the cost of U.S. ethanol credits known as RINs on Thursday to below $1 raised hopes amongst some traders that more gasoline cargoes would now make their way across the Atlantic from Europe. This followed unexpected week-on-week declines in U.S. gasoline stocks on Wednesday, with a 1.4 million barrel drop in the key East Coast market. But RINs prices remain very elevated, which means the gap between U.S. and European gasoline prices needs to be much wider than in the past to make the arbitrage workable. Some traders said that when duty and freight costs were included there was very little scope for gasoline shipments. Harry Tchilinguirian, head of commodity market strategy at BNP Paribas, noted that lower RINs prices might simply lead to more U.S. gasoline and blending components staying in the domestic market, adding to inventories and reducing demand for European gasoline. European gasoline components traders said it was also very quiet on the MTBE side. "There has been a little demand, basically for EBOB blending but not the big blends for Mexico or even West Africa," one said. Another market participant confirmed that the West African market was still quiet, despite the issuance of quarterly gasoline allocations by Nigeria. In refinery news, trade sources said that Exxon Mobil's 246,000 barrels-per-day Antwerp refinery will shut for maintenance from September 20 to early November. Repsol's Bilbao refinery is also planning a partial maintenance in October-November. GASOLINE * No Eurobob gasoline barges traded in the Platts price assessment window. * Some 4,000 tonnes traded ahead of the window at $998 a tonne fob ARA, at the upper end of Thursday's pre-window range of $987-$1,000 a tonne. Gunvor and BP sold the barges to Cargill and Statoil. * These trades came at premiums to the August swap of $2.50 a tonne. * Two barges of premium unleaded gasoline traded at $1,011 a tonne fob ARA, in line with Thursday's trades. Total bought the barges from Vitol and Trafigura. * The August swap was trading at about $998 a tonne fob ARA at the market close. * By 1555 GMT, Eurobob's crack to dated Brent was up at around $11.13 a barrel, from around $10.05 a barrel on Thursday. * ICE Brent crude futures were down 74 cents at $106.92 a barrel. * U.S. RBOB gasoline futures in New York were up 0.44 percent at $3.0303 a gallon. The prompt crack was up at $21.22 a barrel. NAPHTHA * Three naphtha cargoes traded in the window, two at $875 a tonne cif NWE and the other at $876 a tonne. This was up slightly from Thursday's trade at $874 a tonne cif NWE. * Shell bought a cargo from BP, Gunvor bought one from BASF and Vitol bought one from Glencore. * The naphtha crack was a little firmer at around minus $8.61 a barrel, from around minus $9.14 a barrel on Thursday.