A cargo of Tunisian naphtha is due to arrive in Asia this week, in what is a rarer journey for the product originating from the North African country.

The  naphtha-laden long-range (LR2) tanker STI Goal, which is now on its way to Asia, loaded part of its total naphtha volume via ship-to-ship (STS) transfer from the medium-range (MR) tanker Gea on 9 September. The latter tanker loaded around 20,000t of naphtha from Tunisia’s Bizerte port in late August, Vortexa data show.

The STI Goal also loaded a larger naphtha cargo from Greek refiner Hellenic Petroleum’s refinery in Elefsis on 1 September. Provisional shipping fixtures showed the tanker was chartered to load 75,000t of naphtha at the beginning of September along the Greece-Far East route.

The tanker is currently estimated to arrive in Yosu, South Korea with its co-loaded shipment around 8 October, based on its latest signalling. 

Exporting naphtha via STS transfer from the Mediterranean or North Africa region can be more expensive than loading a single, larger cargo onto an LR tanker. But healthier prompt demand for naphtha in Asia in recent weeks may have improved the economics of such arbitrage flows to east of Suez destinations from Europe.

Rarer shipment

No Tunisian naphtha cargo was observed imported by South Korea since at least early 2016, with Italy being the primary destination for Tunisian naphtha exports since the start of this year, amid an overall yearly increase in total exports observed so far this year. 

These exports have also discharged in the Netherlands, Spain and France since January. Another rarer shipment was delivered to Turkey in August. 

Meanwhile Tunisia’s neighbour Algeria was observed exporting three LR-sized naphtha cargoes to east of Suez destinations in September, one cargo less than in August. At least one of these cargoes is headed to China. 

The next 20,000t naphtha export from Bizerte port is expected in the coming days.