Preliminary data for March shows that total OECD commercial oil stocks fell by
4.2 mb following the sharp decline in the previous month to stand at 2,660 mb. At this
level, inventories were in line with the five-year average, but showed a surplus of
7.7 mb with a year ago at the same time. Within the components, crude saw a build of
13.8 mb, while product stocks declined by 18.0 mb.
At 1,289 mb, OECD crude commercial stocks stood at a comfortable level, with a
surplus of 11.2 mb over the same time a year earlier and nearly 19 mb above the fiveyear
average. In contrast, product stocks ended the month of March at 1,372 mb,
remaining tight and showing a deficit of 3.5 mb with the previous year and 18.6 mb with
the seasonal norm. Within the OECD regions, OECD America and Europe declined by
12.4 mb and 3.9 mb, respectively, while OECD Asia-Pacific stocks rose by 12.4 mb.
Despite the fall, OECD Americas’ inventories remained at a healthy level in March, up
7.1 mb from the same month a year earlier and 44.5 mb higher than the seasonal norm.
This surplus was mainly driven by crude stocks, which stood at 20.0 mb above a year
ago and nearly 50 mb above the five-year average. It should be noted that at the end of
March, US commercial stocks reached the highest level since July 1990 to stand at
388.6 mb. The comfortable level of US crude commercial stocks came mainly on the
back of higher domestic crude supply reaching more than 7.0 mb/d.
In contrast to the healthy level of crude stocks, OECD America’s product inventories
indicated a deficit of 12.9 mb with a year ago and 4.5 mb with the seasonal average.
The tightness came mainly from middle distillates, which were reduced due to the
increase in exports to Latin America. At the end of the first quarter of 2013, middle
distillates were 23 mb below the seasonal norm, while gasoline stocks started to gain,
indicating a minor surplus of 4.0 mb.
OECD Europe’s inventories fell for the second consecutive month, ending the month of
March at 924 mb. At this level, they indicated a deficit of 53.7 mb with the five-year
average and stood around 20.2 mb lower than at the same period the year before. The
shortfall with the seasonal average is attributed to both crude and products, which were
down by 28 mb and 26 mb, respectively. The deficit with the previous year was divided
between crude and products, showing a deficit of around 10 mb each.
Commercial inventories in OECD Asia-Pacific in March reversed the previous month’s
fall and rose considerably by 12.1 mb to end the month at nearly 400 mb. As this level,
they were 20.8 mb above a year ago at the same period and stood 9.2 mb higher than
the last five-year average. The total of the build came from crude, which increased by 12.4 mb, while product stocks declined slightly by 0.3 mb.
Higher Japanese crude imports contributed to the sharp build in Asia-Pacific crude
inventories. Despite this build, they still stood at 3.3 mb below the five-year average, but
switched the shortfall with the year ago of 18.8% in the previous month to a surplus of
1.7%. On the product side, OECD Asia-Pacific total product inventories indicated a
surplus of 19 mb over a year ago and stood 12 mb higher than the five-year average.
Although OECD commercial stocks fell in March, days of forward cover rose by
0.2 days to end the month at 59.2 days, reflecting mainly low seasonal demand in the
second quarter of this year. At this level, inventories were 1.1 days above the same
period last year and 1.7 days more than the latest five-year average.
It should be noted that despite the lower absolute level of OECD Europe’s commercial
stocks, the days of forward cover stood at around 70 days in March, reflecting the
weakness of demand in this region. The current level of days of forward cover is not
expected to decline over the coming quarters, as OECD consumption is projected to
decrease in each of the following three quarters by at least 300,000 b/d, while
non-OPEC supply is forecast to increase by more than 1.0 mb/d over the same period.
EU plus Norway
The latest available data for March shows that total European stocks fell for the
second consecutive month, down by 3.9 mb, to stand at 1,054.2 mb. With this build,
stocks ended the month 24.2 mb, or 2.2%, below the same time last year and 74.5 mb,
or 6.6%, below the latest five-year average. The total stock-draw came from both crude
and products, which declined by 2.3 mb and 1.6 mb, respectively.
European crude inventories fell in March ending the month at 449.3 mb. This
represents a deficit of 3.2 mb or 0.7% above a year earlier, and 25.8 mb or 5.4% below
the latest five-year average. The fall in crude oil stocks came on higher refinery
throughputs, which rose by around 90,000 b/d to average 10.3 mb/d, but they are also
175,000 b/d higher than a year ago at the same time. In March, European refiners were
running at 82 percentage points (pp), higher than the previous month and around 5.4 pp
above the same time a year ago.
Product stocks in Europe fell in March, reversing the build of the last two months and
ending the month at 604.9 mb. This level represented a deficit of 20.9 mb or 3.3% with
the same period last year and constituted a shortfall of 48.0 mb or 7.4% with the fiveyear
average. Within products, and with the exception of naphtha, all other products
Gasoline stocks fell by 1.4 mb for the second consecutive month, finishing March at
110.4 mb. Despite this drop, inventories were 3.1 mb or 2.9% higher than the year
before and 9.7 mb or 8.1% below the seasonal average. Refinery maintenance amid
higher gasoline imports to the US contributed to the fall in gasoline stocks.
Distillate stocks fell slightly by 0.4 mb, reversing the build of the last three months and
ending March at 380.3 mb. At this level, they were 9.0 mb or 2.3% lower than a year
ago and 10.9 mb or 2.8% below the seasonal average. The stock-draw mainly reflected
lower refinery output as weak regional demand and higher imports from Russia limited
further stock-draws in distillate inventories.
Residual fuel oil stocks also dropped in March by 0.8 mb, reversing the stock-build of
the last month to stand at 85.2 mb. With the drop, they were 7.3 mb or 7.8% lower than
the year before and 21.9 mb or 20.4% below the seasonal average. The fall in residual
fuel oil came on the back of higher exports to Singapore driven by higher demand in the
In contrast to the fall in gasoline, middle distillates and residual fuel oil stocks, naphtha
stocks saw a build of 0.9 mb to end March at 29.0 mb, leaving them 7.7 mb or 21%
below the same period last year and 5.5 mb or 16.0% lower than the five-year average.
Preliminary data for April shows that US total commercial oil stocks rose by 19.9 mb,
reversing the drop of the last two months to end the month at 1,096.2 mb. With this
build, the inventories widened the surplus with last year at the same time to 14.9 mb
and stood at a comfortable level, indicating a gain of 42 mb or 4.0% over the five-year
average. The stock-build was attributed to both products and crude as they increased
by 12.2 mb and 6.7 mb, respectively.
US commercial crude stocks rose in April for the fourth consecutive month,
accumulating a more than 30.0 mb build since the beginning of this year. At 395.3 mb,
crude oil commercial stocks finished the month at the highest level since the EIA began
collecting data in 1982. At this level, they are 18.4 mb or 4.9% above a year ago and
35.8 mb or 9.9% higher than the five-year average.
The total of the build in US crude stocks came during the week ending 26 April driven
by the jump in crude oil imports versus the previous week, which increased by more
than 600,000 b/d to reach 8.1 mb/d. A continued increase in domestic production,
remaining above 7.0 mb/d, also contributed to the build in US commercial crude stocks.
Increased refinery inputs in April have limited further builds in crude stocks. Indeed, US
crude oil refinery inputs rose by almost 250,000 b/d to average 14.8 mb/d, around
350,000 b/d higher than the same period last year. In April, US refineries operated at
around 85.2%, which was 1.1 pp higher than March and 0.4 pp more than last year at
the same time.
In contrast to the increase in national crude oil stocks, inventories in Cushing showed a
decline of 1.4 mb during the week ending 26 April from the previous week to end the
month at 49.8 mb, but leaving the stock overhang some 20% above last year’s level.
Total product stocks saw a build in April, reversing the drop of the last three months,
and ended the month at 700.9 mb. With this build, product inventories narrowed the
deficit with a year ago to 3.5 mb from 25.2 mb a month earlier. This build also helped to
switch the deficit with the five-year average in the previous month to a surplus of 0.9%.
With the exception of gasoline, all other products saw a build, with the bulk of the
increase coming from unfinished products, distillates and residual fuel oil.
Gasoline stocks fell by 4.7 mb for the third consecutive month to end April at 216.0 mb.
Despite this draw, gasoline stocks stood at 5.5 mb or 2.6% above a year ago, and
4.7 mb or 2.2% higher than the seasonal average. The decline in gasoline stocks was
driven mainly by relatively higher gasoline demand as output remained almost
unchanged. The slight decrease in gasoline imports also contributed to the stock-draw.
Distillate stocks rose by 2.8 mb, reversing the drop of last three months and ending the
month of April at 115.8 mb. Despite this stock-build, distillate stocks remained at 8.8 mb
or 7.1% below the year-ago level and 18.1 mb or 13.5% lower than the seasonal norm.
Higher imports were behind the build in distillate stocks as domestic production and
demand offset each other. Indeed, the four weekly averages of April show that distillate
demand fell by around 100,000 b/d, while output increased by almost the same amount.
Residual fuel oil stocks rose by 2.7 mb to finish the month of April at 38.5 mb. At this
level, they were 4.1 mb or 12.0% higher than a year ago, and indicated a slight surplus
of 0.3 mb or 0.8% over the seasonal norm. Jet fuel stocks also increased by 0.5 mb in
April to stand at 40.0 mb, but were still 0.4 mb or 0.9% lower than the same month a
year ago, and 1.2 mb or 3.0% below the latest five-year average.
In March, total commercial oil stocks in Japan reversed the drop of the last month and
rose considerably by 12.2 mb to end the month at 168.1 mb. As this level, they are
3.7 mb or 2.3% above a year ago at the same period, and stood 2.4 mb or 1.5% higher
than the last five-year average. The total of the build came from crude which increased
by 12.4 mb, while product stocks abated the stock-draw and declined slightly by 0.3 mb.
Japanese commercial crude oil stocks saw a significant build of 12.4 mb in March,
reversing the stock-draw in February, and ended the month at 98.7 mb, the highest
level in four months. Despite this build, they still stood at 2.2 mb below a year ago at the
same time, but switched the deficit with the five-year average of 9.2% to a surplus of
The build in crude oil stocks was driven by higher crude oil imports as they increased by
around 604,000 b/d or 17.0% from the previous month to average 4.2 mb/d, but still
represent a deficit of 1.1% compared with the previous year at the same time. The build
in Japanese crude oil stocks was also driven by the decline in crude throughput, which
fell by around 200,000 b/d or 5.4%, averaging 3.8 mb/d. At this level, stocks are 2.7%
lower than March 2012. Japanese’s refiners were running at 80.0%, around 4.5 pp
lower than in the previous month and 1.8 pp above the same period last year. Direct
crude burning in power plants declined in March by 29.4% to end the month at around
185,068 b/d, 34% less than the same period last year.
On the product side, Japan’s total product inventories saw a slight drop of 0.3 mb
following a build during the last two months and ended March at 69.4 mb. At this level, they indicated a surplus of 5.9 mb or 9.3% over a year ago and 1.1 mb or 1.6% higher
than the five-year average. The decline in total imports in March was behind the fall in
product stocks; higher exports also contributed to the decline of total product stocks.
However, lower Japanese total oil product sales, which fell by 11.3% from a month
earlier, limited a further product stock-draw. Within products, the picture was mixed:
gasoline and naphtha increased, while distillate and residual fuel oil stocks witnessed a
Gasoline stocks saw a build for three consecutive months, ending March at 13.9 mb. At
this level, they were 0.4 mb or 2.7% lower than a year ago, and 0.4 mb or 2.8% below
the five-year average. The build in gasoline stocks came on the back of higher gasoline
output, which increased by 11.4%. An increase of 13% in imports also contributed to the
build in gasoline stocks. However, higher domestic sales limited a further build.
Naphtha stocks also rose by 0.8 mb to finish March at 10.9 mb, which represents a
surplus of 2.4 mb or 29% above a year ago, but they remained 0.4 mb or 3.8% below
the seasonal norm. The build in naphtha stocks came from higher production as they
declined by 3.0%. An increase of 14% in imports also contributed to this build, however
higher domestic sales limited a further increase.
Distillate stocks fell by 1.0 mb, ending the month of March at 28.2 mb, but were still
2.9 mb or 11.4% higher than a year ago and 1.8 mb or 6.7% above the seasonal
average. Within distillate components, jet fuel went up, while kerosene and gasoil
experienced a drop. Jet fuel stocks rose by 25% due to an almost 60% increase in
output. Gasoil stocks fell by 3.6% on the back of higher domestic sales, which
increased by 6.5%. Kerosene stocks also fell by 12.5%, reflecting lower output
outpacing decline in domestic sales.
Total residual fuel oil stocks went down by 0.4 mb to end the month of March at
16.4 mb. At this level, they were 6.2% above a year ago and 0.9% higher than the fiveyear
average. Fuel oil A inventories rose by 11.5%, while fuel oil B.C fell by almost
10%. The increase in fuel oil A stocks could be attributed to the fall of 8.8% in domestic
sales. Fuel oil B.C stocks saw a drop of 9.2%, driven by the decline of imports by
almost half from the previous month.
Singapore and Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp (ARA)
At the end of March, product stocks in Singapore fell by 4.5 mb for the second
consecutive month, ending at 37.8 mb, the lowest level since September 2012. With
this stock-draw, they indicated a deficit of 5.0 mb or 11.6% with a year ago.
Within products, light distillates saw a build, while fuel oil stocks witnessed a sharp
drop, followed by a minor decline in middle distillates.
Residual fuel oil fell by 4.9 mb, reversing the build of last two months and ending the
month of March at 16.7 mb. This fall in fuel oil inventories has widened the deficit with a
year ago to 6.2 mb from only 0.2 mb a month earlier. This stock-draw is mainly driven
by lower imports from the Middle East as the refinery maintenance season in the region
limited its supply. Arrivals from the West were also lower, contributing to the fall in
residual fuel oil inventories.
Middle distillate stocks fell slightly by 0.1 mb in March, ending the month at 10.1 mb.
Despite this stock-draw, they represented a surplus of 0.5 mb or 5.5% over a year ago
at the same period. The fall in middle distillate stocks is attributed to higher demand,
mainly from Vietnam and Indonesia.
In contrast, light distillate stocks rose by 0.6 mb after experiencing a fall last month
and ended March at 11.1 mb, leaving them at 0.6 mb or 0.7% above the same period
last year. This stock-build came mainly from higher imports outpacing exports to
Product stocks in Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp (ARA) rose by 1.7 mb in March for
the fourth consecutive month to stand at 35.3 mb. With this stock-build, product stocks
stood at 0.7 mb or 2.1% higher than last year at the same time.
Within products, the picture was mixed; gasoline and jet fuel experienced a drop, while
gasoil, naphtha and fuel oil witnessed a build.
Gasoline fell by 0.6 mb, reversing the build of the last three months and ending March
at 8.2 mb. At this level, gasoline stocks stood at 2.6 mb higher than last year at the
same time. The stock-draw came from a lower level of arrival to the ARA hub outpacing
the departure toward the UK, USA and Mexico. Jet fuel stocks also saw a drop of
0.2 mb and ended the month of March at 2.4 mb, remaining almost 27% less than the
same level last year.
In contrast, fuel oil stocks rose by 1.4 mb, reversing the fall of the last two months and
ending March at 5.6 mb, which is 0.7 mb or 13.3% higher than a year ago at the same
period. Gasoil stocks saw a build of 0.8 mb in March after remaining flat in February. At
18.2 mb, ARA gasoline stocks stood at the highest level since March 2012, but they are
still 1.6 mb or 8.3% less they a year ago at the same period. In March, naphtha stocks
rose by 0.2 mb from the previous month and ended the month at 0.9 mb, but they
remained in line with the level of last year at the same time.