Markets Worldwide Continue to Decline

As product markets fell to their lowest levels in three years or more, S&P Global Platts provided an overview of the European refined product markets on March 16. The Russia-Saudi price war and coronavirus concerns continued to weigh heavily on demand. Products were taking their lead from crude, as the consultancy reported dated Brent at $27.945/bbl, off $3.90/bbl.

As the price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia continues and OPEC+ canceled a meeting scheduled set for March 18, it is signaling the likelihood that the global crude market will be flooded with crude come April.

Saudi Arabia slashed its official selling prices (OSP) last week, in response, others such as Abu Dhabi's ADNOC, Iraq's SOMO, and Kuwait's KPC all reduced their OSPs and many market participants expect Nigerian OSPs to follow suit.

The propane CIF Northwest Europe large cargo fell to $194.25 per metric tonne mid-March, the lowest flat price since March 2002 when the market was assessed at $190.50 per metric tonne. S&P Global Platts also reports that similarly, the butane CIF Northwest Europe large cargo was assessed at $185 per metric tonnr, the lowest value since May 2003.

In the Mediterranean, the situation parallels that in Northwest Europe, with the FOB Lavera coasters assessed at $242 per metric tonne, the lowest level since August 2003, when the price was $240.

The spread of COVID-19 has bought a degree of uncertainty to the LPG market in Europe as petrochemical crackers consider production cuts and seasonal heating demand begins to subside moving into springtime.

"I think there is a bit more downside in propane still," one market source commented.

According to Platts data, looking at naphtha in Northwest Europe, the CIF cargo was assessed at $209 per metric tonne, off $47 per metric tonne since the prior trading day, and the lowest in 17 years. European naphtha had lost about 30% in value in a week and 50% since the beginning of March.

(SOURCE: The Weekly Propane Newsletter, March 19, 2020. Subscribe to receive all the latest posted and spot prices from all major terminals and refineries around the U.S., featuring a center spread of posted prices that includes hundreds of postings completely updated each week, market analysis, insightful commentary and more.)