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UK liquids production in September was higher y/y by 69 thousand b/d at 1.03 mb/d, due to the base effects of heavier maintenance last year. Production was lower by 70 thousand b/d m/m, following a 0.17 mb/d upward revision to the preliminary August numbers. The entire 0.24 mb/d September Forties programme was exported on four VLCCs to Asia. October and November loadings will ultimately be lower than the original 0.31 mb/d and 0.42 mb/d programme estimates, after the Buzzard field was offline for half of October due to a 10-day outage from 4–14 October and a further shutdown from 17–25 October. This likely reduced supply by at least 60 thousand b/d from the typical 0.12 mb/d, while power outages on the Forties Pipeline System on 18 and 24 October further disrupted the Forties loading programme. The Brent programme will also slightly underperform its preliminary 0.12 mb/d October schedule after EnQuest shut down the Thistle platform following subsea inspection work on a storage tank, cutting around 5 thousand b/d of supply to the Brent-Ninian stream. At 0.58 mb/d (+17 thousand b/d y/y), November loadings of Forties, Brent and Flotta are planned at their highest so far in 2019, although any remaining production issues may make it challenging to meet the aggressive programme. UK crude differentials were strong over October, though the return of the Buzzard field saw Forties drop from a premium to a $0.04 per barrel discount versus Dated. Falling freight rates should rekindle demand from the east once Forties volumes return.
UK oil demand decreased by 43 thousand b/d y/y in August to 1.46 mb/d. Demand for gasoline (+10 thousand b/d) picked up y/y, while middle distillates fell by 26 thousand b/d y/y. Runs increased by 20 thousand b/d m/m in September to 1.04 mb/d (-0.12 mb/d y/y), but weak refining margins will pressure October runs.