If oil prices are to continue their strong rally, they will have India to thank.
India has emerged as the “star performer” of the oil markets, the IEA wrote in its May Oil Market Report. Oil demand growth in India has surpassed that of China, the long-time cornerstone of global commodity demand.
Part of India’s sudden importance has to do with China. Demand growth for refined fuels in China plunged recently, down to 353,000 bpd in the first quarter of 2016 from a year earlier. That is down roughly 60% from a highpoint in the third quarter of last year at nearly 900,000 barrels per day (elevated levels that had a lot to do with filling of China’s strategic petroleum reserve).
But India’s demand for liquid fuels grew by 400,000 bpd in the first quarter, which was the fastest in the world, accounting for about 30 percent of the total global increase. “This provides further support for the argument that India is taking over from the China as the main growth market for oil,” the IEA wrote in May. That level of growth is all the more remarkable given that India’s oil demand grew at an average of just 120,000 bpd every year for the past decade, according to Bernstein Research.
The growth figures in India are striking: GDP is expanding at a 7.6% annual rate, gasoline demand is up 14.5%, and diesel demand is up 7.5%. The WSJ reports that 24 million new vehicles were constructed in India in the most recent fiscal year, and the government is targeting new road construction on the order of 30 km every single day. India’s vehicle fleet has doubled since 2007.
To fill all of those vehicles, India needs more oil. And with domestic production relatively stagnant, India has to resort to steadily higher imports. Crude oil imports have jumped by 12% so far this year from 2015 levels. Domestic refineries are running full tilt, and more capacity is needed.
According to Bernstein’s Neil Beveridge, India is at a “structural inflection point for oil growth,” with several factors responsible for the surge in demand: the government program to rapidly expand the nation’s highway system; rising per capita income; and a shift towards building out manufacturing capacity to make up a larger share of the Indian economy.
India is now more or less at the same per capita income levels as China in 2002 – a time when China’s demand for oil and other commodities started to skyrocket. Bernstein sees India undergoing a similar, if less intense, industrialisation and economic transformation. Oil consumption could grow at a 5.4% compound annual growth rate through 2021, or an increase of 1.45 MM bpd) over the next five years to 5.45 MM bpd. by 2040, India’s oil demand could rise to 10 MM bpd, a more than 6 MM bpd increase from today’s levels, which will also be the largest source of growth on the planet.
In other words, India is simultaneously contributing to oil demand in today’s oil market, putting a floor beneath prices, while India will also be the largest driver of oil demand over the long-term. China was largely responsible for the commodity super-cycle that began in the early 2000s that ended a few years ago. Companies that spent billions on coal mines in Australia, copper mines in Chile, or drilled oil wells in increasingly hard-to-reach areas of the globe – they all had China in mind when they put together their forecasts. But going forward, India will increasingly play that role.
And the next bull market could be starting sooner than many think. Bloomberg reports that commodity markets are about to enter bull market territory, as the Bloomberg Commodity Index – which tracks 22 different raw materials – is about to close up 20% from January levels. To be sure, the super-cycle price boom of a decade ago is not about to return, but the bear market has come to an end. The fortunes of commodity producers now rest with India.
Nick Cunningham, Oilprice.com, 8 Jun 2016
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When it was first announced in 2012, there was scepticism about whether or not Petronas’ RAPID refinery in Johor was destined for reality or cancellation. It came at a time when the refining industry saw multiple ambitious, sometimes unpractical, projects announced. At that point, Petronas – though one of the most respected state oil firms – was still seen as more of an upstream player internationally. Its downstream forays were largely confined to its home base Malaysia and specialty chemicals, as well as a surprising venture into South African through Engen. Its refineries, too, were relatively small. So the announcement that Petronas was planning essentially, its own Jamnagar, promoted some pessimism. Could it succeed?
It has. The RAPID refinery – part of a larger plan to turn the Pengerang district in southern Johor into an oil refining and storage hub capitalising on linkages with Singapore – received its first cargo of crude oil for testing in September 2018. Mechanical completion was achieved on November 29 and all critical units have begun commissioning ahead of the expected firing up of RAPID’s 300 kb/d CDU later this month. A second cargo of 2 million barrels of Saudi crude arrived at RAPID last week. It seems like it’s all systems go for RAPID. But it wasn’t always so clear cut. Financing difficulties – and the 2015 crude oil price crash – put the US$27 billion project on shaky ground for a while, and it was only when Saudi Aramco swooped in to purchase a US$7 billion stake in the project that it started coalescing. Petronas had been courting Aramco since the start of the project, mainly as a crude provider, but having the Saudi giant on board was the final step towards FID. It guaranteed a stable supply of crude for Petronas; and for Aramco, RAPID gave it a foothold in a major global refining hub area as part of its strategy to expand downstream.
But RAPID will be entering into a market quite different than when it was first announced. In 2012, demand for fuel products was concentrated on light distillates; in 2019, that focus has changed. Impending new International Maritime Organisation (IMO) regulations are requiring shippers to switch from burning cheap (and dirty) fuel oil to using cleaner middle distillate gasoils. This plays well into complex refineries like RAPID, specialising in cracking heavy and medium Arabian crude into valuable products. But the issue is that Asia and the rest of the world is currently swamped with gasoline. A whole host of new Asian refineries – the latest being the 200 kb/d Nghi Son in Vietnam – have contributed to growing volumes of gasoline with no home in Asia. Gasoline refining margins in Singapore have taken a hit, falling into negative territory for the first time in seven years. Adding RAPID to the equation places more pressure on gasoline margins, even though margins for middle distillates are still very healthy. And with three other large Asian refinery projects scheduled to come online in 2019 – one in Brunei and two in China – that glut will only grow.
The safety valve for RAPID (and indeed the other refineries due this year) is that they have been planned with deep petrochemicals integration, using naphtha produced from the refinery portion. RAPID itself is planned to have capacity of 3 million tpa of ethylene, propylene and other olefins – still a lucrative market that justifies the mega-investment. But it will be at least two years before RAPID’s petrochemicals portion will be ready to start up, and when it does, it’ll face the same set of challenging circumstances as refineries like Hengli’s 400 kb/d Dalian Changxing plant also bring online their petchem operations. But that is a problem for the future and for now, RAPID is first out of the gate into reality. It won’t be entering in a bonanza fuels market as predicted in 2012, but there is still space in the market for RAPID – and a few other like in – at least for now.
RAPID Refinery Factsheet:
Tyre market in Bangladesh is forecasted to grow at over 9% until 2020 on the back of growth in automobile sales, advancements in public infrastructure, and development-seeking government policies.
The government has emphasized on the road infrastructure of the country, which has been instrumental in driving vehicle sales in the country.
The tyre market reached Tk 4,750 crore last year, up from about Tk 4,000 crore in 2017, according to market insiders.
The commercial vehicle tyre segment dominates this industry with around 80% of the market share. At least 1.5 lakh pieces of tyres in the segment were sold in 2018.
In the commercial vehicle tyre segment, the MRF's market share is 30%. Apollo controls 5% of the segment, Birla 10%, CEAT 3%, and Hankook 1%. The rest 51% is controlled by non-branded Chinese tyres.
However, Bangladesh mostly lacks in tyre manufacturing setups, which leads to tyre imports from other countries as the only feasible option to meet the demand. The company largely imports tyre from China, India, Indonesia, Thailand and Japan.
Automobile and tyre sales in Bangladesh are expected to grow with the rising in purchasing power of people as well as growing investments and joint ventures of foreign market players. The country might become the exporting destination for global tyre manufacturers.
Several global tyre giants have also expressed interest in making significant investments by setting up their manufacturing units in the country.
This reflects an opportunity for local companies to set up an indigenous manufacturing base in Bangladesh and also enables foreign players to set up their localized production facilities to capture a significant market.
It can be said that, the rise in automobile sales, improvement in public infrastructure, and growth in purchasing power to drive the tyre market over the next five years.
Headline crude prices for the week beginning 14 January 2019 – Brent: US$61/b; WTI: US$51/b
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