By Seng Li Peng and Jessica Jaganathan
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Indian Oil Corp (IOC) sold a naphtha cargo from its Paradip refinery this week, four traders that participate in the market said on Friday, in what was likely the first sale since May 2017.
IOC sold up to 30,000 tonnes of naphtha on late Thursday in two separate cargoes for second-half August loading from Paradip to a trading house at discounts of about $14 a tonne to its own price formula on a free-on-board (FOB) basis, the traders said.
IOC this year stopped exporting naphtha from Paradip, which can process 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude, as it was using the fuel as feedstock for gasoline production, said the traders, who closely track Indian cargoes.
Indian Oil last offered a cargo of naphtha from Paradip for loading in May 2017, Reuters previously reported, though it was unclear if the cargo was finally sold.
The company conducted a 45-day maintenance at Paradip starting in March while it has regularly been exporting naphtha from its Chennai plant.
The sales added to rare offers from Reliance Industries and Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL).
HPCL offered up to 20,000 tonnes of naphtha for loading from Aug. 19 to 24 from Visakhapatnam, the first cargo out of the refinery this year, through a tender closing on Aug. 6, the traders said.
Reliance offered 35,000 tonnes for heavy naphtha for loading at the end of August in a tender that close on July 31, said three of the traders, though they said buying interest for the grade was limited.
Reliance mainly stopped exporting heavy naphtha while using it as a feedstock for gasoline and petrochemical production.
The company, however, exports open-specification grade naphtha which is used to make plastics among other petrochemicals.
Asia's naphtha fundamentals have improved recently as traders expect fewer cargoes to arrive this month from Europe and the Mediterranean, sending margins for the light fuel to a seven-month high of above $120 a tonne in late July before easing.
(Reporting by Seng Li Peng; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)