,Tourists at the iconic Merlion site in Singapore - File picMerlion Singapore
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SINGAPORE: South-East Asian oil and fuel demand has hit a plateau after an initial recovery from the Covid-19-induced slump and appears unlikely to get back to pre-virus levels until the end of the year or later.
A slow rollout of vaccinations and a resurgence in cases in the region of almost 700 million people is pushing back the timeline for a return to business as usual.
There are still restrictions on movement in parts of Indonesia and Malaysia, while tourist hot spots in Thailand remain closed.
The aviation hub of Singapore hasn’t had much success in starting travel bubbles with other countries while Myanmar is wracked by civil unrest following a coup.
Indonesian fuel sales are still around 7% below pre-pandemic levels, state-owned energy company PT Pertamina said.Vhinese tourists in Thailand - File pic
Indonesian and Malaysian gasoline demand has recovered “tremendously” since last April last year but the renewed lockdowns have slowed the momentum, according to Facts Global Energy (FGE).
Diesel consumption in Indonesia should be back to normal in the third quarter, but the situation in Malaysia is less certain, the industry consultant said.
“We should see gasoline returning on its path of recovery over April and May” during the Muslim fasting period of Ramadan, but diesel demand is a “mixed bag, ” said Grayson Lim, a senior oil market analyst at FGE.
Refinery runs should keep improving but they’ll still be below pre-virus levels by year-end, he said.
Indonesian run rates are averaging 800,000 barrels a day this quarter, compared with 900,000 before the virus, according to Lim. Malaysian runs are at about 570,000 barrels a day in the first three months of the year, down from 600,000 normally, he said.
In Thailand, gasoline and diesel demand are both only likely to be around 1% higher this year than in 2020, according to IRPC Pcl.
The refiner plans to boost run rates at its plant in Rayong province to 95% to 97% of capacity in the second half from 86% to 88% in the first six months, a spokesperson said in emailed response to questions.
Another Thai refiner, Bangchak Corp, is restarting its 120,000 barrels a day refinery this month following maintenance and will run it at full capacity thereafter.
Petron Corp, the Philippines’ largest oil company, plans to resume operations at its idled refinery in the second half as fuel sales rebound. — Bloomberg