SINGAPORE, Sept 19 (Reuters) - Indonesia, and not the United States, will be the largest influence on global gasoline trade by 2018 as it emerges as the world's top importer of the motor fuel and reverses the current east-to-west trade flows, said Wood Mackenzie on Thursday.
The consulting firm said in a statement that Indonesia's gasoline deficit - driven by income growth, increased car ownership and government subsidies - would grow to about 420,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 2018, from 340,000 bpd in 2012.
United States and Mexico on the other hand will see their combined gasoline deficits fall to 60,000 bpd from 560,000 bpd over the same time frame. In following years, they will see gasoline surpluses, Woodmac said.
"Indonesia is already the largest deficit market in the world as an individual country but it is not yet influencing inter-regional trade flows or prices as it still has a smaller deficit compared to the combined U.S. and Mexico markets," said Sushant Gupta, head of downstream research at Woodmac, in the release.
Indonesia currently gets most of its oil product imports from the Asia Pacific region, with Singapore the key supplier.
But by 2018, Asia Pacific will see a gasoline deficit of 118,000 bpd because of Indonesia's demand, compared with a surplus of 55,000 bpd in 2012.
Middle East gasoline exports to Asia Pacific are expected to rise but will be limited as the former region will also be short of the oil product.
Meanwhile, the flow of gasoline from the Atlantic basin to West Africa could potentially reduce if plans for a new refinery in Nigeria, a big gasoline importer, move ahead.
That would further increase the attraction of Asia as a destination for gasoline, the consultancy said.
Gasoline now moves mostly from Asia in the east through the Suez Canal to markets in the west, but the flow is likely to reverse due to the rising Indonesian demand, Woodmac said. (Reporting by Seng Li Peng; Editing by Tom Hogue)