SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Indonesia’s Pertamina has chartered ships to store gasoline on the waters off Singapore, three sources said, an extremely rare move that could allow it to benefit from the price drop caused by a coronavirus-linked demand slump.
The sources said Asia’s largest gasoline importer has chartered three vessels, ‘BW Zambesi’, ‘Nordvenus’ and ‘Scf Prudencia’, for a six-month period to store petrol.
Pertamina was not immediately available for comment.
The state-owned refiner joins a host of others who have turned to stockpiling oil and oil products on ships, with storage tanks elsewhere filling to overflowing even after refiners slashed runs to curb production.
Gasoline was last seen being stored onboard ships in Singapore waters in 2016, with trading houses being the charterers.
The current move to store gasoline is likely driven by Pertamina wanting to lock in supplies at low prices, the sources said.
Benchmark 92-octane petrol prices fell to $14.35 a barrel on April 22, the lowest since Reuters started tracking the data in 2008. They had recovered to $16.65 a barrel by April 24, but were still down 77% from the start of the year.
Pertamina, which imported a monthly average of 1.2 million tonnes of gasoline in 2019, earlier this month sought to defer gasoline cargoes for April arrival due to a dive in local demand following measures to curb the spread of the virus.
Its April imports to date stand at close to 900,000 tonnes, data from Refinitiv Oil Research team showed.
But the state-owned refiner has also issued four tenders seeking to buy gasoline from the spot market for May to August delivery.
Reporting by Seng Li Peng, Florence Tan and Wilda Asmarini in Jakarta; Editing by Jan Harvey