China's March diesel exports are seen steady at 300,000-400,000 tonnes versus estimated February levels, while gasoline may hover at 500,000 tonnes despite lower crude runs this month, traders said yesterday.
But lower shipments due to refinery maintenance in Taiwan and South Korea will help cushion the market impact from the steady stream of Chinese fuel obtained from its high inventories, they said.
Twelve major plants accounting for more than a third of China's total crude processing capacity plan to process 2.175 million barrels per day (bpd) crude in March, down 161,000 bpd versus February, including maintenance at major plants, a Reuters poll showed.
"My estimate is that China will have around 500,000 tonnes of (gasoline) exports in March, and that the maintenance at Sinopec's plants is unlikely to affect the export volumes due to high stocks," said a Singapore-based trader.
Despite the anticipated steady export volumes, the Asian gasoline market is expected to stay well supported.
"The maintenance in South Korea and Taiwan will likely offset the high exports from China," said a second trader.
Taiwan's Formosa has shut a 180,000 bpd crude distillation unit and a 84,000 bpd gasoline-making unit this month for 40-50 days maintenance, sources had said.
South Korea's S-Oil has also taken off a 250,000-bpd CDU on March 4 for a month of maintenance.
"Additionally, the market in the West is strong, and this will also boost sentiment in Asia," the trader said.
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