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Australia’s oil product demand fell y/y in March for the fourth straight month, by 28 thousand b/d to 1.04 mb/d. Weak gasoline demand persisted through March, lower y/y by 16 thousand b/d to 0.30 mb/d, as prices at the pump continued their upward trend. We expect gasoline demand to remain soft throughout Q2 19 as gasoline prices reached a six-month high of 152.8 Australian cents per litre in May. Diesel demand fell by 11 thousand b/d y/y in March, to 0.49 mb/d, as a series of cyclones flooded mining operations on the west coast of Australia, halting iron ore and coal shipping exports. Jet demand rose y/y by 2 thousand b/d to 0.16 mb/d, higher y/y for the third month in a row, though growth was capped by weak international passenger arrivals, falling to 836,300 (-4.1% y/y), the first y/y reduction since April 2018.
March refinery runs fell by 8 thousand b/d y/y to 0.50 mb/d, as refiners were dogged by weak refinery margins resulting in discretionary run cuts. Caltex reported a sharp y/y drop in January-March profits, with margins averaging $7.53 per barrel. Though product cracks improved markedly in April amid a recovery in gasoline cracks, planned works at Caltex’s 0.12 mb/d Lytton refinery, including the 35 thousand b/d FCC, will have weighed on runs. Product imports were higher y/y by 72 thousand b/d to 0.64 mb/d, led by gasoline growing y/y by 50 thousand b/d to 0.15 mb/d, boosted by imports from India at 16 thousand b/d (+16 thousand b/d y/y) marking the first gasoline imports from the country since August 2018. Australia’s product stocks rose m/m by 1.2 mb to 30.6 mb, an eight-month high, while crude stocks rose m/m by 0.6 mb to 12.7 mb. Australia’s liquids output was up y/y by 37 thousand b/d at 0.11 mb/d, led by condensates.