Australian oil demand grew at the fastest pace for 17 months, up by 79 thousand b/d y/y to 1.05 mb/d in April, although we expect demand growth to have slowed from May onwards due to base effects. Demand growth remained overwhelmingly led by diesel at 74 thousand b/d y/y. The manufacturing PMI eased from March’s record high of 63.1 but remained robust at 58.3 in April. Jet demand was another bright spot, up y/y for the 32nd straight month, by 7 thousand b/d, while fuel oil consumption grew by 6 thousand b/d y/y due to strong bunkering demand. Gasoline demand posted its fourth successive y/y decline (-10 thousand b/d), in line with weak vehicle sales which declined y/y by 0.2% April and by 2.2% in May. This is a big reversal from Q1 18, which saw record vehicle sales, as consumer spending appeared to have slowed with wage growth in April at a record low of 2% y/y. LPG demand fell by 3 thousand b/d y/y.
Refinery runs grew by 20 thousand b/d y/y to 0.52 mb/d, while crude imports were 0.12 mb/d higher y/y on a weak base. Total liquids output grew for the third straight month, by 21 thousand b/d y/y, led by condensate (+34 thousand b/d y/y). Growth will accelerate from June with the start-up of the Ichthys project, though it will only begin exports in September. Product imports grew by 82 thousand b/d y/y as diesel imports surged by 57 thousand b/d y/y on record flows of 0.21 mb/d from Singapore. LPG exports slid y/y by 17 thousand b/d to 26 thousand b/d but should rebound in May to 33 thousand b/d according to Kpler data. Crude stocks grew by 0.99 mb m/m while product stocks were flat m/m (except LPG, stocks of which grew by 0.42 mb m/m).