SINGAPORE India's Reliance Industries has bought between 60,000 and 90,000 tonnes of heavy full-range naphtha for March arrival to plug a supply gap due to its growing petrochemical capacity, industry sources with knowledge of the matter said on Tuesday.
The purchase came at a time when Asian naphtha supplies are relatively tight due to firm demand and low volumes of Western cargoes arriving in the East.
Details on price, sellers and origin of the cargoes were not clear, the sources said.
They added that Reliance, which has only sporadically imported heavier types of naphtha in the past, may become a regular importer because it has build additional capacity to produce the petrochemical paraxylene.
Although it operates two massive refineries in Jamnagar in Gujarat, production of naphtha is insufficient for both petrochemicals and gasoline production.
The Indian refiner recently started up 800,000 tonnes per year (tpy) out of a total of 2.2 million tonnes of new paraxylene capacity and will commission capacity by March.
This will increase its total paraxylene capacity to 4.2 million tpy, according to a December press release.
A Reliance spokesperson declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.
Reliance is continuing to export lighter naphtha that typically is consumed in steam crackers for petrochemical manufacturing.
It has already sold at least 160,000 tonnes of naphtha with a minimum 70 percent paraffin content for March loading from Sikka.
This week it offered another 55,000 tonnes for late March loading. This brought its total exports of paraffinic naphtha next month to over 210,000 tonnes, making it the dominant seller among other refiners such as Indian Oil Corp, Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd.
(Reporting by Seng Li Peng; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)