Asia's gasoline margins have recently swung back to a premium after mainly being at discounts since the start of 2019 as rising demand from Indonesia and upcoming refinery maintenance raised supply concerns.
The so-called gasoline crack spread, or the price difference for the fuel versus Brent crude oil, rose to nearly $1 a barrel on Tuesday, according to data on Refinitiv Eikon. The spread has rebounded from minus $2.85 on Jan. 30, the lowest since November 2011.
The spread typically trades at a premium to Brent but fell to a discount to the benchmark crude at the end of 2018 because of a supply glut of gasoline in Asia.
Some demand is now appearing to soak up some of that excess supply.
Indonesian state-owned energy firm Pertamina is seeking 2.1 million barrels of 88-octane gasoline for March delivery in two tenders, one being awarded on Feb. 21 and another on Feb. 28, according to the offer documents that were reviewed by Reuters.
Elections and lower fuel prices could be among the reasons behind the additional demand, said four traders who participate in the market, who added that Indonesia's March gasoline imports could reach up to 12 million barrels versus a monthly average of 10 million barrels.
When asked about the higher imports, Pertamina's spokesman said that “everything is in normal condition” and declined to comment further.