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Indonesia’s Pertamina Sep import volumes to stay low at near 7 mil barrels: sources

Indonesia’s Pertamina is expected to cut gasoline imports in September — reducing volumes for the third straight month — as slow vaccination rates continue to dampen demand despite gradual easing of pandemic-related restrictions, sources familiar with the company’s import plans told S&P Global Platts on Aug. 24.

The state-owned company was heard planning to import around 7 million barrels of gasoline in September, down from 7 million-8 million barrels it planned to import in August.
The decline in imports from Southeast Asia’s largest buyer of gasoline comes even as Indonesia gradually eases movement restrictions.

The restrictions, which started late-July, were eased first on Aug. 16 in several regions in Java and Bali. Several other islands outside of Java and Bali relaxed curbs from Aug. 23 onwards.

As of Aug. 23, Indonesia had recorded 579,402 number of COVID-19 infections, down from 1.262 million cases reported in July, data from John Hopkins University showed.

“The road ahead for Indonesia gasoline is very uncertain. Vaccination rates are still moving slowly and with the high number of cases, unlocking too soon could risk another fresh wave,” a Singapore-based source said.

According to data from the Indonesian health ministry, only 10% of the country’s population has completed their vaccinations as of Aug. 22 while only around 20% of the country has taken the first dose of the vaccine.

Reflecting the uncertain demand, driving activity in Indonesia has continued to whipsaw between the range of 20% above to 10% below baseline levels since early August, according to mobility data from Apple.

In late-May to early-June, driving activity in Indonesia had hit a peak of 60% above baseline levels, the mobility data showed.

“Indonesian domestic refineries are not running at high run rates. Even then, demand is not strong enough to prompt Pertamina to re-stock,” another source said.

“Without Indonesian snapping up cargoes in the market, there is not much demand-side support for Asian gasoline to strengthen,” a third source noted.

With a lack of demand-side support, the FOB Singapore 92 RON gasoline crack against front month ICE Brent crude futures was assessed at $6.92/b Aug. 23, having eased from the $8.72/b level on Aug. 1, Platts data showed.
Source: Platts

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