Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL), India’s largest listed company, doubled fuel exports from the world’s biggest refining complex last month as it boosted gasoline shipments to the U.S. ahead of the driving season.
The Mumbai-based company, controlled by billionaire Mukesh Ambani, increased shipments of fuel products from its Jamnagar facility to at least 2 million metric tons from 850,000 tons in February, according to ship-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg and vessel fixtures from Clarkson Research Services Ltd.
Gasoline demand in the U.S., the world’s biggest economy, typically peaks in the so-called summer driving season, which lasts from the Memorial Day weekend in late May to the Labor Day holiday in early September. Reliance is exporting more as state- owned rivals such as Indian Oil Corp. and Bharat Petroleum Corp. sell most fuels domestically at government-capped prices.
“Demand in the U.S. for gasoline is expected to increase ahead of the driving season,” said Praveen Kumar, Singapore- based head of South Asia oil and gas at FACTS Global Energy, an industry consultant. “European refiners may also be looking to ship to the U.S., but high Brent crude prices are forcing them to cut production while stocks remain high. Reliance is seeking to take advantage of that situation.”
Manoj Warrier, a spokesman for Reliance in Mumbai, didn’t respond to an e-mail seeking comment.
Brent oil, the European benchmark, surged 24 percent in the first quarter as fighting in Libya cut production from Africa’s third-largest supplier. The violence is the bloodiest in a wave of uprisings that have swept the Middle East and North Africa this year.
Reliance exported at least 710,000 tons of gasoline from Jamnagar in western India during March, compared with 500,000 tons in the previous month, according to transmissions captured by AISLive on Bloomberg and data from Clarkson Research, a unit of the world’s biggest shipbroker.
More than half of the March gasoline shipments headed for the U.S., while other destinations included Singapore, Japan and Europe. The Sarasota was hired by Reliance to ship 90,000 tons of the fuel to New York, the data show. The vessel left the port of Sikka near Jamnagar in mid-March, sailed through the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean Sea, and was last tracked heading toward the U.S. east coast, according to data on Bloomberg.
Reliance shipped at least 790,000 tons of diesel overseas in March, the data show. Gasoil, or diesel, from Reliance’s refineries has been in demand in Europe because of a drop in temperatures in the region, Kumar said. Exports of the fuel may slow during the summer, he said.
Almost half of diesel shipments went to Europe, while other destinations included Brazil and Saudi Arabia. The Desh Garima was chartered by BP Plc to transport 80,000 tons of diesel to Europe, the Clarkson data show. The vessel sailed from Sikka in early March and was last recorded near Le Havre off the coast of Normandy in France, according to ship transmissions.
All figures from Clarkson are for single-voyage bookings and exclude long-term charters. Shipbrokers aren’t obliged to report charters so the scope of data capture can vary from month to month.
Reliance runs two refineries in the western Indian state of Gujarat, which are capable of processing heavier grades of crude. They have a processing capacity of 1.24 million barrels a day, and account for about 1.6 percent of global refining capacity, according to the company’s website.
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