Japanese oil demand grew y/y for the first time in eight months in October, by 45 thousand b/d to 3.26 mb/d. Fuel oil demand rose y/y by 26 thousand b/d, to 0.17 mb/d, up from a low base. Jet demand rose y/y by 14 thousand b/d, to 93 thousand b/d, also boosted by a low base as Typhoon Lan weighed on demand last October. Naphtha demand rose m/m by 71 thousand b/d to 0.80 mb/d (+9 thousand b/d y/y) as works at several steam crackers were completed in early October. Propane demand was broadly flat y/y at 0.32 mb/d, while gasoline demand slipped y/y by 26 thousand b/d, to 0.84 mb/d, amid rising prices at the pump as crude prices reached over $85 per barrel in early-October. The recent pullback in prices should, however, help reverse some of the pain at the pump. The Japanese Weather Association reported that for the first time in 132 years there was no snowfall recorded in the low-lying areas of Hokkaido, as the warm weather persists, causing a 30 thousand b/d fall in kerosene demand y/y, down to 0.19 mb/d.
Refinery runs fell by 0.27 mb/d y/y in October to 2.62 mb/d, amid heavy maintenance that affected 0.68 mb/d of CDU capacity (+0.19 mb/d y/y). Japanese crude oil imports rose by 0.16 mb/d y/y to 3.09 mb/d led by Saudi Arabia, while Iranian imports fell to 48 thousand b/d, down 0.1 mb/d m/m and down 0.12 mb/d y/y. For now, Japan has temporarily halted Iranian crude imports, though several refiners plan to resume Iranian crude and condensate liftings from January, with the US recently granting waivers likely allowing up to 0.1 mb/d of imports. Strong imports and weak runs led to a large m/m build in crude stocks in advance of the Iran sanctions, up 14.4 mb to 88.6 mb, while product stocks fell marginally m/m by 0.7 mb to 92.6 mb.