Asia's rising gasoline demand spells end for floating storage trend

SINGAPORE/JAKARTA, June 19 (Reuters) - A second and final trio of ships used as floating storage tanks for gasoline is en route to unload cargoes in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Malaysia, according to industry sources and shipping data, showing fuel demand is growing across Asia.

More than 280,000 tonnes (about 2.4 million barrels) of gasoline were stored onboard six ships floating off Singapore and Malaysia last month after demand slumped as countries imposed lockdown measures on business and travel to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Half of those volumes, contained in a first trio of vessels, were discharged between late May and early June.

Refinitiv Eikon data showed Indonesia’s Pertamina is now set to discharge gasoline from the BW Zambesi now at Merak, its third such delivery this month. The largest gasoline importer in Asia had previously stocked up on the fuel to cash in on low oil prices.

Two other ships - Georg Jacob and Energy Centurion - chartered by trader Trafigura are currently at Tanjung Langsat, Malaysia, and Galle, Sri Lanka, respectively, the data showed. All three ships are Panamax vessels - named after their suitability for transiting the Panama canal - capable of transporting about 50,000 tonnes of fuel each.

“As compared to the storage volumes seen in mid-May, the current offshore storage for gasoline around Singapore/Malaysia/Indonesia has fallen significantly,” said Sandy Kwa of energy consultancy FGE. “This is reflective of the region’s resurgence in driving demand.”

Pertamina was not immediately available for comment, while Trafigura declined to comment.

Gasoline prices and refiners’ margins have rebounded from lows in April and May amid rising fuel demand.

Asia's benchmark 92-octane gasoline prices have averaged at $41 a barrel between June 1 and June 18, up 33% and 111% from the full-month averages in May and April, respectively. GL92-SIN

Similarly, Asia's gasoline refining margin was at a premium of $1.57 a barrel to Brent crude on average so far in June, a sharp improvement from monthly average discounts of $7 in April and $1.57 for May. GL92-SIN-CRK (Reporting by Seng Li Peng in Singapore and Wilda Asmarini in Jakarta; Editing by Florence Tan and Kenneth Maxwell)