Japanese oil demand rose by 41 thousand b/d y/y to 2.89 mb/d in June, as the end of the petrochemical cracker maintenance season supported feedstock demand. Naphtha led the recovery, with demand up by 0.15 mb/d y/y on the back of lower cracker maintenance y/y (-83 thousand tonnes of ethylene capacity offline). Despite stronger cracking margins, LPG demand fell by 56 thousand b/d y/y as Japan’s cracker fleet remained heavily weighted towards naphtha. Gasoline demand also fell, by 51 thousand b/d y/y, even with pump prices down m/m at $1.35 in June vs $1.39 in May, although they were higher than the low in February of $1.29. Diesel demand fell by just 4 thousand b/d y/y as Japan’s PMI index reached 49.6 in June, still in contractionary territory but a m/m rise (49.3 in May), which shored up business optimism. Jet fuel demand was up by 5 thousand b/d y/y as tourism received a boost with the start of summer.
Refinery runs rose by 0.34 mb/d y/y in June, to 2.88 mb/d, as significantly lower refinery maintenance y/y (-0.31 mb/d) supported refining operations. Crude imports increased sharply, by 0.38 mb/d y/y (16%) to 2.8 mb/d, with the loss of supply from Iran (-0.15 mb/d y/y) more than offset by higher imports from the UAE (+0.42 mb/d y/y) and Qatar (+0.11 mb/d y/y). Japan continued to import increasing amounts of US crude (+66 thousand b/d y/y in June), yet the Middle East remained Japan’s primary supplier, with overall crude imports from the region rising by 0.31 mb/d y/y in June. Product imports rose by 25 thousand b/d y/y, led by naphtha (+14 thousand b/d y/y). Crude stocks fell by 3.4 mb m/m due to increased refinery runs. Product stocks rose by 2.34 mb m/m to 81 mb, driven by a 2.35 mb m/m build in LPG stocks.