Indian Diesel Cargoes to Australia in Rare Move
India-Australia vessels booked despite higher freight costs; Chevron moving 1-2 cargoes a month to Australia.
Indian diesel cargoes are being shipped to Australia in a rare move as rising competition from new Middle East refineries has made it more difficult to land the fuel in India's core traditional markets in Europe and Africa.
Diesel is typically shipped to Australia from North Asia or Singapore as freight rates for the India-Australia route can cost as much as 50 percent more, traders and shipbrokers said.
Yet several vessels have been chartered on the higher-priced route since late last year, the traders and brokers said.
Chevron, for instance, has been moving 1-2 cargoes a month to Australia from private Indian refiner Reliance Industries' facility at Jamnagar port on the west coast of India, traders said.
The Jupiter Express left Jamnagar on Feb. 7 and is on its way to Botany Bay in Sydney, Australia, carrying 35,000 tonnes of clean oil products that could be either gasoline or diesel, shiptracking data on Reuters shows.
The Ocean Pluto, a 35,000-tonne clean product tanker, left Jamnagar on Jan. 18 and arrived on Feb. 9 in Adelaide, South Australia.
Officials at Chevron and Reliance have declined to comment.
As refining capacity expands in the Middle East, India and China, imports of oil products such as diesel and gasoline into Australia have become more attractive.
Australia turned into Asia-Pacific's top diesel importer after the closure of several ageing refineries, with global oil traders such as Vitol and Trafigura's Puma subsidiary snapping up petrol stations, storage tanks and terminals to manage tanker arrivals and distribution.
"Freight-wise, it's cheaper to ship from the Middle East to (Europe), so I think the most pressure is on the Indian private refiners," a Singapore-based middle distillates trader said.
Australia imports about 770,000 to 875,000 tonnes of diesel a month, with the volume set to rise from mid-2015 when BP halts operations at its 102,000 barrels-per-day Bulwer Island refinery in Brisbane, Queensland.
Oil giant Saudi Aramco, which has been a major term buyer of diesel from Reliance in India, reduced its import requirements for this year, one trader said.
This could also be placing pressure on Reliance to explore new markets to sell excess cargoes in Australia.
By Jessica Jaganathan