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US Data: Dec West Coast-Mexico refined product vessel traffic spikes year on year

Commodities in Mexico: A Platts news and analysis feature

By Seth Clare in Houston

Published online 28 December 2017

This month's refined product vessel traffic going from the US West Coast to Mexico more than doubled from December 2016, S&P Global Platts trade-flow data showed December 27.

In December 2016, three ships with a combined capacity of about 150,000 Dwt went from the West Coast into Mexico, which is well below the same figures for 2017.

Platts cFlow trade-flow data shows that in the past month, including vessels currently in route to Mexico, over 400,000 Dwt of shipping capacity spread across nine refined product vessels has made or is making the journey from America's Pacific Coast to its southern neighbor.

For example, cFlow shows that the 46,000 Dwt Tula left Mexico from the port city of Mazatlan, took on refined product at Los Angeles last week, and is currently in route back to Mexico.

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The data also shows that vessel traffic along this route tends to peak in December or January, which is consistent with data from the US Energy Information Administration.

US EIA data show that Mexico is the number one export destination for US fuels and that exports of gasoline there have peaked in December going at least as far as back as 2013.

Last year, US gasoline exports south of the Rio Grande hit a high for the year in December when American sent out more than 15 million barrels of finished motor gasoline. Mexico's gasoline demand is now at "the strongest point of the year seasonally," a US gasoline source said.

He said this is because, unlike the US, where peak driving demand occurs in summer, Mexico's peak driving season takes place in winter.

Based on this cFlow data, December 2017 exports of gasoline to Mexico could exceed levels from December 2016, which would likely be attributable, at least in part, to refinery troubles in Mexico.

The latest data from Mexican state oil company Pemex show that its 330,000 b/d Salina Cruz and 195,000 b/d Madero refineries were stopped in November as its 275,000 b/d Minatitlan refinery was operating at partial capacity.

"With all of their domestic refineries either shut or reduced, Mexican demand is very strong" for US refined products a second US gasoline source said.

He added that the West Coast will be an important source of supply for Mexico with "the peak demand season there [starting] up right about now."

Next story -- Feature: Mexican ethanol optimism returns after states ask for ban repeal

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