In February, total commercial oil stocks in Japan reversed the build of the last month and declined by a considerable 11.3 mb to end at 155.9 mb. At this level, they were 1.8 mb or 1.2% below the same period a year ago and 8.3 mb or 5.1% below the last five-year average. The total drop came from crude, which declined by 13.0 mb, while product stocks increased by 1.7 mb.
Japanese commercial crude oil stocks declined in February, reversing the build in January and ending the month at 86.2 mb. This meant that they were 6.1 mb below the same time a year ago and 8.8 mb lower than the seasonal average. The fall was driven by a decline in crude oil imports, which decreased by around 500,000 b/d or 12.4% from the previous month to average 3.6 mb/d; this represented a deficit of 10.8% compared with the same time the previous year. In addition, crude stocks decreased due to an increase in crude throughput, which rose by around 100,000 b/d or 2.7% to average 3.5 mb/d. At this level, they were 2.7% lower than in the same month a year earlier. Japanese refineries were running at 84.5%, around 1.6 pp higher than in the previous month and 3.4 pp above the same period last year.
Direct crude burning in power plants declined in February by 7.1% to end at around 261,960 b/d, 30.2% lower than the same period last year. Given that the weather in February was warmer, the fall in direct crude burning reflected mainly the impact of energy conservation and substitution in the country.
On the product side, the build in Japan’s total product inventories continued for a second month, ending February at 69.7 mb. This meant a surplus of 4.2 mb or 6.5% with a year ago and of 0.4 mb or 0.6% with the five-year average. The stock-build in total products came as total oil product imports rose by 3.4% in February from a month earlier. Lower exports also contributed to the build. However, higher domestic sales limited a further build. Indeed, domestic sales in Japan rose by 3.4% in February from the previous month to average 3.9 mb/d, but they were down by 7.0% from the same month a year ago.
Within products, all items experienced builds in February. Gasoline stocks rose by 0.4 mb to end February at 13.6 mb. At this level, they were 0.6 mb or 4.8% higher than a year ago, but still 0.4 mb or 2.7% below the five-year average. The build came on the back of a 3.7% decline in gasoline sales.
Distillate stocks also rose, by 0.2 mb, to end the month at 29.2 mb, leaving them at a surplus of 3.1 mb or 11.9% with a year ago and of 0.8 mb or 3.0 % with the seasonal average. Within the distillate components, jet fuel and gasoil went up, while kerosene fell. Jet fuel stocks rose by 8.5% due to a decline of nearly 15% in domestic sales consumption. Gasoil stocks also increased, by 4.4%, after a 3.9% rise in output. In contrast, kerosene stocks fell by 5.1%, reflecting lower output outpacing a decline in domestic sales.
Total residual fuel oil stocks rose by 0.6 mb to end February at 16.9 mb. This meant they were 6.4% above a year ago and 4.6% higher than the five-year average. Fuel oil A went down by 9.2%, while fuel oil B.C rose by almost 8%. The decline in fuel A stocks could be attributed to an 8.2% fall in production. Fuel oil B.C stocks saw a build, driven by the decline in sales of nearly 10%. Higher imports also supported the build in fuel oil B.C stocks. Naphtha inventories saw a build of 0.5 mb, ending February at 10.1 mb. Despite this build, they remained 5.0% below than a year ago and 7.2% lower than the five-year average. The build came from lower domestic sales, which declined by 10.1%; however, lower production limited a further build.