SINGAPORE - Philippines' Petron Corp bought 120,000-150,000 barrels of 93-octane gasoline at a premium of around $8.00 a barrel to Singapore quotes, cost-and-freight (C&F), the highest premium a buyer had paid for the grade this year, traders said on Friday.
"This is so high, but they have specific specifications, such as no MTBE, which are not easily met," said a Singapore-based trader.
"More importantly, hardly any seller has any barrels to sell because of surging demand," he added.
The state-run firm bought the cargo for mid-March arrival by tender from a Western trader to fill a supply void, as its refinery will run at low rates this week after a routine maintenance which started in December.
Its 180,000 barrels per day (bpd) refinery is resuming production a month later, adding to the supply crunch, forcing it to seek spot parcels at a time when Indonesia and Australia are also soaking up the autofuel since December.
Petron has been importing autofuel since December. It had earlier bought 230,000-250,000 barrels of gasoline for first-half February arrival at $5.00 a barrel premium to Singapore quotes on a C&F basis.
The soaring demand in Asia has pushed the Asian gasoline cracks to its highest in more than a year at close to $15.00 a barrel premium on Thursday.