Faced with the risk of a lack of diesel in the second half, the main distributors are increasing their inventories, according to executives and industry sources. At Vibra (formerly BR), the largest company in the country in the segment, the volume stored preventively increased from seven to nine days of consumption. Raízen and Ipiranga are also storing a larger amount, expanding the stock from three to four days, according to sources. The matter also worries the government, which is studying the creation of a crisis protocol for the supply of diesel.
The companies’ fear is motivated by a scenario that combines expectations of higher GDP growth than previously forecast – which means higher fuel consumption -, forecast of one of the worst hurricane seasons in the Gulf of Mexico in recent decades, the end of lockdown in China (which stimulates the global economy and demand for the product) and an increase in the effective embargo on Russian oil.
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According to the report of participants in the last meetings of the Monitoring Committee for the National Supply of Fuels and Biofuels, within the scope of the Ministry of Mines and Energy, it was even pointed out that next month the demand for diesel could exceed the supply, which includes both production in refineries and imports.
More biodiesel in the mix
Given this scenario, the crisis protocol being studied by the government aims to guarantee imports in advance, in addition to ensuring that stocks support consumption. The initiative would also prioritize the provision of critical infrastructure such as police cars, health-related vehicles and food transport.
The idea is to ensure integration between distributors and importers, as well as measures to quickly serve regions with lower stocks and higher demand. A similar experience was adopted in the country during the truck drivers’ strike in 2018.
But this is not the only hypothesis on the table. The focus at the moment is to expand inventories. About 30% of the volumes consumed in the country depend on imports. A global fuel supply bottleneck would directly affect the country.
Another option under discussion is to increase the percentage of biodiesel in diesel, which would be a way to increase the availability of fuel in the country. Today, the mix is at 10% and could be raised to 12%. The sector claims to be able to respond with an increase in production of 1.2 billion liters in 30 to 45 days.
This alternative, however, comes up against other obstacles. The Minister of Mines and Energy, Adolfo Sachsida, is historically in favor of reducing the mix of biofuels in gasoline and diesel, not increasing them. In addition, the government fears that the change will raise the final price of the product, at a time when fuel price controls became a government goal before the election.
In the government, the biggest concern is with white flag posts, which have no scale in imports. In the case of large distributors, they adopt long-term and higher volume contracts.
So far, what we see on a daily basis is a punctual lack of fuel, at some points, such as when leaving Rio. Truck driver Ronaldo Bento said he was unable to fill up with diesel last week at two stations near Via Dutra, at Belford Roxo, when he was going to deliver a load in Teresópolis.
“With the high price of diesel, I imagine that the stations do not want to buy much and it becomes scarce”, he opined.
Autonomous truck driver Nasareno da Silva has also had momentary difficulty filling the tank:
“When I saw that I had no way to fill up, I ended up going to a nearby gas station.”
A report by the National Petroleum Agency (ANP) estimates that diesel sales in the first four months of the year reached 20 million cubic meters, the highest volume for the period ever recorded in the historical series, which began in 2000. increase of 2.07% in relation to the period from January to April of last year. The highest percentages of increase in consumption were seen in the Midwest (5.34%), in the North (8.44%) and in the Southeast (2.37%).
In the text, the ANP cites the ABCR index, which measures the flow of vehicles on toll roads in the country, calculated by the Brazilian Association of Highway Concessionaires, which points to an increase of 22.2% in April compared to the same month last year. .
The trend is for the pace of diesel sales to continue strong in the second half of the year, according to Valeria Lima, executive director of Downstream (Supply) at the Brazilian Petroleum Institute (IBP):
“The second semester is in line with the harvest. If it is good, there will be greater demand. We have been working together with the MME and the Energy Research Company (EPE) to monitor the market. There is no risk of shortages in the short term. agents have proved to be efficient”, he says, adding a warning: “You can’t joke about it, because when you talk about price control, it represents a risk for the country.”
Petrobras informed, in a note, that it contributes to the planning of fuel supply, considering the domestic and international market scenarios. And he recalled that Brazil will have a “challenging situation in the second half of the year, since it is the agricultural harvest season and consumption increases to transport the harvest”.
Historically, the general diesel stock in Brazil has always fluctuated between 13 and 15 days. Today it is around 20 days, according to the companies. Last week, the MME reported that the stored volumes of S10 diesel oil (the least polluting) amounted to 38 days of import. That is, if purchases from abroad were suspended, stocks and domestic production would be enough to supply the country for 38 days. Petrobras alone represents around 45% of all imports in the country.
According to Abicom, an association of importers, the lag in the price of diesel persists after the 8.9% readjustment in May. Yesterday, the price difference between the amount charged by Petrobras and the international market was 6% (or R$ 0.33 per liter).
Sergio Araujo, executive president of Abicom, recalled that there are no imports from independent companies due to the lack of predictability in Petrobras’ prices, which increases uncertainty in the sector. Sought after, the MME did not comment.